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1000-year-old imperial China bowl sells for world record £28 million

The brush washer fetched HK$294.3 million (£28 million) at the auction, setting a new world record price for Chinese ceramics. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

An innocuous blue-green dish that wouldn’t look out of place in a student bedsit has sold for a world record £28 MILLION.

The ceramic bowl is about 1,000 years old and dates to the days of imperial China. It has been described as “virtually unobtainable” and captured the imagination of bidders in Hong Kong.

It was made by Ru guanyao, which is one of the most revered of the Five Great Kilns used by the imperial court during the Song dynasty.

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The dish, which has a diameter of 13cm and would have been used to clean brushes, has a glowing, intense blue-green glaze and ‘ice crackle’ pattern.

A frantic bidding war saw the bowl go to an anonymous bidder for £28 million (Sotheby’s/

It was offered by Sotheby’s with a guide price of £10 million, but there was a fierce 20-minute bidding war and it sold to an anonymous bidder for £28 million (HK$294.3million).

“While seemingly small and unobtrusive, these understated aesthetics reflect the calibre and meticulousness of its craftsmanship, a quiet metaphor of Chinese philosophy celebrated by erudite connoisseurs and scholars throughout time,” said Sotheby’s.

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It is most likely the dish was made between 1086 and 1106 and it is extraordinarily rare for a Ru vessel to be sold at auction.

There are thought to be just 87 pieces of Ru ware in existence and only six have been sold publicly since 1940.

Ru is a hugely important part of China’s culture, with the small pieces considered the epitome of the Chinese potters’ craft.

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This latest piece created a world record for a Chinese ceramics piece, beating the HK$281.24 million paid in April 2014 for a Meiyintang Chenghua ‘Chicken Cup’.

The last brush washer to be sold publicly was in 2012 when a dish was auctioned by Sotheby’s, selling for £16.8m – £10m above its estimate.