Auctions are a hotspot of energy, money, and most interestingly bidding wars! In a rather dull 2020, it was the auctions’ that kept the energies buzzing. One such event living up to the reputation of being supremely dynamic is Olympia Auctions in West London. What unfolded here will probably go down in auction history as a pair of Chinese ceramic bowls, valued at just $265 at auction, sparked offers of more than $66,000 after a bidding war broke out between rival collectors today. I wouldn’t know much about how remarkable these 20th-century Chinese copper-red and blue-ground Sanduo bowls actually are but their value increased manifold (250 times to be exact) thanks to the egotistical rich men present at the auction. The bowls were part of a private European collection, acquired in Hong Kong, 1989, just over six inches (15.5cm) in diameter. A spokesperson for the Works of Art department at Olympia Auctions said, “The bowls each have ‘deep rounded sides rising from a short foot to an everted rim, brightly decorated around the exterior with the three red fruit reserved against a blue ground, the interior white, the base with apocryphal Kangxi reign marks. These were bowls were from a good private collection, and the result also reflects the buoyancy of the competitive Chinese market.’
There’s a deep-rooted love for ceramic bowls in China and that’s evident from what transpired at Olympia Auctions. A few years ago an innocuous-looking bowl from the Chinese Song dynasty and nearly 900 years old, smashed records at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong for the eye-watering price of $37.68 million (HK$294.3 million). Suddenly the $66,000 for a pair of ceramic bowls from the Kangxi reign doesn’t seem exorbitant.