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The Contemporary Art Evening auction at Phillips on February 12 features works by many art world heavyweights including Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Julian Schnabel, and Antony Gormley, but the star that is likely to steal the show is undoubtedly Ai Weiwei's sculpture "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads." This group of 12 gold-plated sculptures, portraying the signs of the Chinese zodiac, is offered as Lot 8 with a pre-sale estimate of £2-£3m.

Created in 2010 the zodiac heads are inspired by those which once comprised a water clock-fountain at the Old Summer Palace, the complex of palaces and gardens in Beijing built between 1750 and 1764 by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty.

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A Ming Dynasty wine cup sold for $36.05 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on Tuesday, April 8, breaking the world auction record for Chinese porcelain. The tiny porcelain cup, which features a color painting of a rooster and a hen tending to their chicks, was purchased by the Shanghai-based financier, Liu Yiqian, by telephone bid.

The previous record for Chinese porcelain was set in 2010 when a gourd-shaped vase from the Qianlong period sold for $32.58 million. The chicken cup also surpassed the previous world record for Ming Dynasty porcelain, which was set in 2011 by a blue and white vase that brought more than $21 million. Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said, “There is no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain. This is an object bathed in mythology.”

The chicken cup was created during the reign of the Chenghua Emperor between 1465 and 1487, a period known for its exceptional porcelain. A number of later emperors were so enamored by the chicken cup’s design that they commissioned numerous copies. There are less than 20 such cups in existence, with only four in private collections. Yiqian’s cup is the only genuine chicken cup in China.

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014 17:44

Christie’s Americana Sales Net Over $10 Million

Christie’s Americana Week auctions, which included the sales of Important American Silver on January 23, Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints on January 24, and Chinese Export Art on January 27, fetched a total of $10,189,025.

The Chinese Export Art sale realized $3,034,750 and the top lot was a rare set of four large Chinese export porcelain nodding head figures from the Qianlong Period, which sold for $173,000. The Important American Silver sale netted $1,737,875 and the top lot, a silver Brandywine bowl by Cornelius Vander Burch from the late 17th century, brought $317,000. The Important American Furniture, Folk Art & Decorative Arts sale was the biggest hit of the week and realized $5,416,400. The top lot was an 18th century Chippendale carved Mahogany scallop-top tea table from Philadelphia, which garnered $905,000. Andrew Holter, head of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Christie’s, said, “Today’s solid results underscore collectors’ continued appetite for works of exceptional provenance and quality.”

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