In April, Chinese art collectors will have the rare opportunity to buy back nearly $29 million worth of art that an English archaeologist once bought for pocket change.
During the 1950’s, English archaeologist and farmer Roger Pilkington collected a millennium’s-worth of rare Chinese ceramics that spanned the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. Pilkington, who was a student at an all-male boarding school called Eton in Windsor, spent a decade collecting the priceless art pieces during the golden period for the Chinese art market in Britain.
A half century later, the price for each of the ceramics have soared. According to Shanghaiist, Chinese collectors will have the chance to buy back their country’s artwork at an auction in Hong Kong on April 6th. Pilkington originally paid around $144 for each artwork ($4,330 today), but his collection is now worth over $28.8 million.
The English archaeologist’s art collection include artifacts such as imperial objects, jade vessels and monochrome stoneware. Together they depict the evolution of Chinese art styles through the eras.
A masterpiece worthy of mentioning within the collection is the Chenghua Bowl intended for the emperor of the Ming dynasty. That piece alone is priced at $8.6 million today. The Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia said of it:
“You can almost tell blind from touching the porcelain, it is so incredibly silky to the touch.”
Another piece from the collection is the rare blue and white ritual holy water vessel from the Yongle period that is worth $5.7 million. According to Sotheby, there are only two companion pieces in existence including one that is on display at the palace museum in Beijing.
The collection also show historical influences on Chinese art throughout the time period. For example the Spherical Moon Flask in the collection is inspired by Middle Eastern art and links trade between China and the Middle East. It is valued at $1.1 million.