Anonymous Buddhist sutra collection highlights US sale
An anonymous collection of Buddhist sutras proved the surprise highlight of a sale of Chinese art at Sotheby's New York on March 19.
The lot realised $14m, up an impressive 9,250% on a $150,000 estimate.
The collection of aphorisms dates to 1414 and is signed Zheng He, but no further information is available. This is only the latest in a string of impressive sales of Chinese art where the true value has gone unspotted by experts in the West.
This was the case back in 2010, when a vase discovered in the attic of a family home during a clearance sold for £53m ($78.2m) at auction - although on this occasion the buyer ultimately refused to pay.
It had been initially valued at £800,000-1.2m ($1.1m-1.7m).
Shitao's Poems, Calligraphy and Landscape also sold well, achieving $3.9m against a $1.5m estimate (up 160%).
Shitao (1642-1707) was a former nobleman who became a Buddhist monk after the fall of the Ming royal dynasty.
Sotheby's explained: "Shitao applied various shades of dry and moist brushstrokes, an elegantly subtle color palette, and an unconventional composition to express his distinctive personality…
"This is unquestionably a rare masterpiece by Shitao."
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