Wine, Watches, And Chicken Cups: Chinese Ceramics Land On ‘Most Valuable Collectibles’ List

    As China's investment-minded collectors push the prices of Asian antiques sky-high, Chinese porcelain takes its place among the world's most expensive luxury items.
    Jing Daily
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    A Ming dynasty porcelain cup sold for $36 million at auction this month shows that Chinese ceramics remain in high demand. (Sotheby's)

    In yet another sign that Chinese buyers are having a major influence on the global auction market, Chinese ceramics have joined the likes of wine, jewelry, and fine art on the list of the world’s nine “most valuable collectibles” in the world.

    A report by real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank finds that Chinese ceramics are the seventh most valuable category of collectible luxury items, as well as the only category listed with origins in a single country. According to the firm’s research, Chinese ceramics saw 83 percent price growth over the past decade ending in 2013, with a 3 percent increase last year. Interest was high last year, when a 1,000-year-old Northern Song Dynasty bowl originally sold at a garage sale for $3 netted $2.2 million at Sotheby’s.

    This category is likely to remain strong for future rankings. Earlier this month, it saw a massive boost when a Ming dynasty porcelain cup with a painted depiction of a rooster sold for $36 million, the auction record for piece of Chinese porcelain. The Meiyintang “chicken cup” was one of only 19 known to exist, and is considered the “holy grail” of Chinese porcelain.

    Chinese collectors intent on “repatriation” of Chinese antiques back to their homeland have caused prices to rise dramatically at auction over the past several years on everything from ancient bronzes to Tang dynasty horse sculptures. Wealthy Shanghai businessman Liu Yiqian, who is known as China’s biggest art collector, purchased the chicken cup after an auction showdown with a London-based dealer.

    Although the list’s additional eight categories—including antique furniture, watches, and stamps—were not specific to one country, Chinese collectors have played a major role in their growing value as well. With a focus on investment in hard assets, China saw the world's second-highest rate of growth in luxury assets last year.

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