Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull today sold in Hong Kong the so-called Thornhill Cup, a blue and white ‘dragon’ stem cup, for an impressive HK$ 36 million, approximately £3,170,000 in sterling. The rare and important item was valued at between £2m. and £4m. so the price was perfectly respectable.
Initially, bidding was fast with several bidders in the room and a bidder on the telephone. Once the bidding passed 25 million, it slowed into what appeared to be a thoughtful battle between the bidder on the phone and a bidder in the room. Bidding rose in increments of HKD 500,000 before eventually being knocked down in the room for 36m. HKD. At the time the hammer fell, that equated to just over £3,169,000. The hammer price if, of course, subject to a buyer’s premium of 25% on the first HK$800,000, 20% up to 15m. and thereafter 12% which take the price well over £3.5m.
The cup was sold on behalf of Staffordshire University which was bequeathed the artefact by London pharmacist and collector Ernest Thornhill. Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University, Rosy Crehan said today: “This is a fabulous result for the University of Staffordshire, it will allow us to care for and display the Thornhill Collection for future generations to enjoy. The funds raised will allow the remaining pieces of Chinese Oriental Ceramics to be curated, conserved and enjoyed in a new Ceramic Education and Research Facility. This is something Ernest Thornhill always hoped for and I am pleased that we will now be able to make his dream come true. ”