18th century Chinese moon flask sells for €4.1m

French auctioneer Aymeric (left) and Philippe Rouillac (right) hold a rare blue, white and celadon porcelain moon flask belonging to the emperor Qianlong is pictured during auction party on June 10, 2018 at the Artigny's castle in Montbazon. —  AFP pic
French auctioneer Aymeric (left) and Philippe Rouillac (right) hold a rare blue, white and celadon porcelain moon flask belonging to the emperor Qianlong is pictured during auction party on June 10, 2018 at the Artigny's castle in Montbazon. — AFP pic

MONTBAZON, June 11 — A rare porcelain moon flask that belonged to the 18th century Chinese Emperor Qianlong has been sold for €4.1 million (RM19.25 million) after a bidding war at an auction in France.

The blue, white and celadon flask — more than 200-years-old — was bought by a French woman who outbid 17 Chinese buyers during a sale that lasted about ten-minutes, according to auctioneers who described the buy as “historic and legendary”.

The final sale including fees totalled more than €5 million — ten times the auction’s opening price of €500,000.

Emperor Qianlong, one of the longest serving Chinese emperors who ruled for much of the 18th Century, was an avid art collector.

The round-shaped moon flask has eight Buddhist symbols in stylised lotus petals and bears the seal of the emperor. It was discovered by chance in April in a French castle during a valuation of antiques and its original owners remain anonymous.

The buyer, who bid over the phone during the auction at Artigny chateau in Montbazon, central France, s expected to keep the flask at her apartment in Paris but it could potentially be loaned to a museum in future, the auctioneer said.

According to the auctioneer Philippe Rouillac, the flask was probably brought back from China by a French navy officer.

Far East art specialist Alice Jossaume said the flask is one of two flasks from Emperor Qianlong that exist.

The other flask was sold for €1.8 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in 2016. — AFP