The Hôtel des Ventes
auction house has sold a Chinese libation cup made from a rhinoceros horn carved in high relief with 5 chilongs and dating from the Qing period between the 17th and 18th centuries, as part of their extensive spring sale which has just come to an end. Estimated conservatively at CHF 10,000 to CHF 15,000 by the specialists, this cup (lot 769) changed ownership for the sum of CHF 365,000, over 30 times its estimate, after a fierce battle between the multitude of Chinese collectors present in the room and anonymous telephone bidders. After minutes of intense competition, the hammer finally went down for the winning bid of the representative in the room of a Chinese client. This sale constitutes a record price unmatched in Switzerland for the auction of an Asian object of this sort and figures in the list of the 10 highest sale prices in Europe for a similar object.
Bernard Piguet, Director and Principal Auctioneer of Hôtel des Ventes, underlines: This extraordinary result confirms the increasing demand for high quality pieces by Chinese clients. We were very pleased to have been able to put such an object up for auction in our Asian and Oriental Art Sale. Besides, its history is well worth mentioning.
This entirely carved rhinoceros horn was indeed discovered almost by chance during a routine home visit to a client wishing to consign furniture and silver for auction at Hôtel des Ventes. The horn was unwittingly placed on a shelf amongst other ornaments. Having inherited the piece, it was unimaginable to the owner that it held any value at all. The intention had been to use it as an ashtray! Bernard Piguet suggested including it in the sale with a conservative estimate of CHF 10,000 to CHF 15,000. Contacted some days after the sale due to a trip abroad, the previous owner, still in disbelief but delighted by the surprise, gave his permission to publish a press release relating the story behind this rare rhinoceros horn cup and its record sale price in Switzerland.
We are extremely proud to have discovered such an object and to have been able to create the optimum conditions for such a sale. We are equally satisfied to see Geneva attracting numerous Chinese and Russian collectors and making an ever greater impression on other collectors markets aside from jewellery and watches - fields in which it remains number 1 in the world", adds Bernard Piguet.