Ming Dynasty 'chicken cup' sells for $36 million at auction

By Kyle Johnson,

A Ming Dynasty porcelain cup, dubbed the "chicken cup" because of its design, went for $36 million (HK$281 million) on Tuesday after going up for auction at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

The small 15th century cup went to Liu Yigian, a businessman, and set a new auction record for a Chinese piece of art, reports Businessweek. Dealer James Hennessy said of the cup, "This is the holy grail of ceramics."

The Hong Kong-based dealer added, "People, emperors and collectors have always aspired to own one of these, and the opportunity doesn't come along often."

According to The Associated Press, the chicken cup is all of 3.1 inches in diameter and is only one of 17 cups in existence. Most sit in museums.

Liu has said that the cup, which features a rooster and hen looking over their chicks, will go to his Long Museum, which is located in Shanghai. Liu and his wife, Wang Wei, opened the museum two years ago.

Sotheby's says a Qianlong vase sold in 2010 for $32.4 million was the previous record holder for highest auction price in Chinese porcelain works.

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