Auctions are meant to fetch ridiculous proceeds. But the Parisian auction house- Drouot was particularly in luck with its recent sale that took place on the 14th of the month. In a series of surprises, the auction saw a unique Chinese seal go down for a record-breaking 22 million dollars, that was roughly 20 times ahead its estimated price, also making it the most expensive seal to ever be traded in history.
Sold to an unknown gentleman, the exotic stamp is made of red and white steatite (a type of mineral rock) and is decorated with nine dragons that symbolize masculinity and imperial authority. Reportedly, the rare seal belonged to Emperor Qianlong, one of the most renowned rulers from the Qing dynasty. Further, it forms part of a collection of 1800 stamps, out of which 700 disappeared over time and the remaining 1000 are conserved in the museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
In olden times it was personally used by the emperor to sign his paintings and other official records. It was later acquired by a French naval doctor in the nineteenth century and has resided with his family ever since. On close scrutiny, the nine dragons that adorn it are seen hunting the sacred pearl – that is the Chinese symbol of immortality. Apart from the powerful decorations that sit atop, the markings beneath the seal spell ‘Emperor Qianlong’s paintbrush’, simply meaning everything that he had painted or written himself. While the details of the buyer remain anonymous, reality, for now, is his own!