On 3rd October 2017, 10.58 a.m., the Ru Guanyao brush washer from the Northern Song Dynasty was sold for HK$$294,287,500 (US$37.7m), becoming the world’s most expensive ceramic. 

A tiny Ru-ware brush washer has become the world’s most expensive ceramic after it was sold at Hong Kong Sotheby’s for a record-breaking price. The brush washer from the late Northern Song (960-1127) went to auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong and the bidding started at HK$80m. It was hammered down at HK$260m at 10.58 a.m. (Hong Kong local time), after an intense bidding war that lasted 20 minutes. It was sold for a sky-high price of HK$294m (US$37.7m) with buyer’s premium, breaking the previous world record set by Chenghua ‘Chicken Cup’ in 2014. 

Henry Howard-Sneyd proved himself to be well-qualified for his position of the lead Auctioneer globally in Asian Art. He handled the situation with a good sense of humour, said “It’s still going” and “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, refreshment at the back”. At the same time, he urged the telephone bidders to be quick by saying “can’t go any longer”, “I need another bid” and “this is enough”. 

Diameter: 13cm 
Provenance (consolidated by The Value): 

Estimate: HK$100,000,000 
Hammer price: HK$260,000,000 
Price realized: HK$294,287,500 

(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless otherwise specified) 

Auction details 

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong 
Sale: Song – Important Chinese Ceramics from the Le Cong Tang Collection 
Auction date: 2017/10/3