Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull have already chased the Chinese market with a series of auctions near to the capital, London, and now they are going the whole hog with a May 31 sale in Hong Kong. Even on their own website, they term it ‘An Adventure’.
It is certainly that. It is also something of a gamble. In Hong Kong, they will, of course, be on the doorstep of the greatest repository of serious buyers of Chinese art. It is, arguably, the best way to reach that market but it still represents a financial and reputational gamble. If the gamble comes off, L&T will be in clover but if, for some reason, it fails then the cost will be enormous. Reputational most but also in terms of costs (getting there, setting up the auction, shipping, staff, etc.) which will represent a multiple of effecting the same operation on home territory.
L&T have produced what is probably their finest catalogue ever: size bumped up to full A4 and printed on the best heavy 180gsm glossy art paper. In the 198 page catalogue, the 151 lots in the sale are described in more than usual detail. Only the very best has made it into the catalogue and the star of the show has to be the so-called Thornhill Cup, which we wrote about in February http://chineseart.co.uk/news/high-hopes-for-sale-of-the-so-called-thornhill-cup/. Xuande mark and period, it is estimated at an ambitious UK £2-4 million, sent for sale by Staffordshire University who have owned it since 1944 following the bequest of collector Eric Thornhill. In many ways, the whole sale hinges on this one item . . .
The Thornhill Cup to be sold by Lyon & Turnbull