Chinese Collectors Secure ‘Min’ Fanglei at Christie’s: Auction Cancelled, Sale Price Exceeds $20 million

The “Min” Fanglei, a massive bronze ritual vessel from the late Shang/early Western Zhou dynasty (12th–11th century BC). Christie's says it ranks among the most important Chinese archaic bronzes to ever appear at auction and will hold a single-lot sale for it on March 20.

The “Min” Fanglei, a massive bronze ritual vessel from the late Shang/early Western Zhou dynasty (12th–11th century BC).

As artnet News anticipated, Christie’s broke new ground in the market for Asian art, just a day earlier than anticipated:  At 5 p.m. today the auction house issued a release saying that the owner of the archaic Chinese bronze had accepted a private sale offer.  A group of private collectors from China’s Hunan Province bought the famed “Min” Fanglei,  a massive bronze ritual vessel that dates from the Late Shang / Early Western Zhou periods (12th–11th century BC), and agreed to donate the object to the Hunan Provincial Museum, where the lid, or cover, of the object is currently located.

Prior to the sale, Christie’s said the object ranked among the most important Chinese archaic bronzes ever to appear at auction, a claim it backed up by giving over an entire sale and individual catalogue to this particular lot. It was due to be sold tomorrow, March 20, at 11 a.m. in New York.

The unpublished estimate on the vessel was about US $15 million. The final price is secret, but sources in New York last night indicated to artnet News that an offer of $20 million had been presented to the auction house by a group of Chinese collectors, in the form of a cashier’s check, and that the auction house was duty bound to present the offer to the seller, who initially rejected the price. This suggests the final sale price exceeds $20 million.  

When the work was last offered for sale, at Christie’s New York 13 years ago, it sold for US$9 million and set a then-world record for an Asian artwork. No record this time, or at least not officially.


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