A small spinach green jade San Xi Tang seal dating from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) has sold at Bonhams for $5.38m. The seal, carved in a double-gourd form associated with longevity, had a pre-sale estimate of “just” $1.5m-$2.37m. At the packed London sale, however, a bidding war ensued, causing the final price to more than double the high estimate. A telephone buyer from mainland China carried the day.
The seal, which had been recorded in Imperial archives, had gone missing for many years. It’s believed that the Qianlong Emperor commissioned the seal, and kept it in the Hall of the Three Rarities (“San Xi Tang”), a tiny room that contained three prized scrolls. The seal, said Bonhams’ Asaph Hyman, ”provides a direct link to one of the most important Emperors in Chinese history.”