Titan Topples Tibetan Tapestry Record

Hong Kong -- Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian purchased a Tibetan tapestry for HK$348 million ($45 million) at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong today, breaking the record for the most expensive Chinese work of art he set in April.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are glad to witness an increase in market valuation, and repatriation of overseas Chinese antiquities.

Liu, who bought a HK$214 million Chengua-era ceramic cup -- nicknamed the Chicken Cup for its imperial allegorical depiction using poultry -- and then paid for it with his Centurion credit card at Sotheby’s, plans to show both works in his private Shanghai museum.

“I am proud to bring back to China this significant and historic 15th century thangka which will be preserved in the Long Museum for years to come,” he said by phone according to a Christie’s press release.

Liu Yiqian placed the winning bid via telephone, which brought an end to a lengthy bidding war.

The sale breaks the previous record for a Chinese artwork, which Liu also set when he paid HK$281.2 million ($35 million) , for a Meiyintang Chenghua ‘chicken cup' at Sotheby's in April. The work ended selling for 5 times the pre-sale estimate of HK$80 million.

The historic 15th century ‘thangka,' will be "preserved in the Long Museum for years to come," the Shanghai billionaire said in reference to the museum in Pudong that he founded with his wife.

According to Hong Kong antiques dealer Hon Lau “The thangka is a magnificent piece of historical artwork made of top-notch craftsmanship." Lau went on to explain that the tapestry is one of a series of three, with the other two pieces remaining in a Tibetan monastery.

The Buddhist tapestry is intricately woven and dates back to the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty between 1402-1424. The work measures 3.3m x 2.1m and shows Rakta Yamari, the red conqueror of death and his companion Vajravetali trampling over Yama, the lord of death.

Some twenty years previously the thangka was sold for £648,000, and in 2002 an American collector paid HK$30 million, or $3.8 million for it. Experts estimate that Buddhist art has been undervalued in the during previous sales.

“Buddhist art is widely respected and interest has gone up," stated Jonathan Stone, the chairman and international head of Asian art at Christie's. "There's no doubt that its value will go up."

The embroidered 15th century silk thangka, a tapestry depicting Buddhist deities, measures 132 inches by 84 inches (3.35 meters by 2.1 meters) and was valued at HK$80 million before the auction.

Intricate tapestries have long played an important part in Tibetan cultural and religious life.

Today's homepage Featured Art video looks at an 'unfurling ceremony' of an immense carpet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14dA9yWyVhI&sns=em