Showcased as part of a collection owned by the late Queen Nam Phuong, the wife of the Nguyen Dynasty’s 13th and last king, Bao Dai, the bowl is 14.5 cm across and 6.2 cm tall, and has a gold rim.
Engraved on it in relief are two dragons flying among clouds in search of holy jade, and the outer bottom has an engraving of the seal of King Tu Duc, who ruled from 1848 to 1883.
King Tu Duc’s bowl, which measures 14.5 cm across has been sold for $892,000 at an auction in France. Photo courtesy of Gazette Drouot
The bowl, which Gazette Drouot, the auction house, had expected would fetch EUR30,000-50,000 only, was finally sold to a collector for the astronomical sum after numerous bids both offline and online on June 17.
“I can’t imagine such a price even for a Nguyen Dynasty bowl,” art researcher Tran Dinh Son, who confirmed the authenticity of the bowl based on its material, engravings and seal, said.
He said the Nguyens loved jade objects, and used to possess a horde of similar precious cups, bowls, teapots, and other antiques, which are today owned and preserved by museums around Vietnam.
Antique researcher Tran Duc Anh Son agreed, saying some of his friends in France visited the auction house to see and evaluate the bowl for themselves.
“No matter of what material, Nguyen Dynasty antiques are receiving special attention these days and being traded for shocking prices.”
This is good news for collectors who possess Nguyen Dynasty antiques, he said.
The outer bottom of the bowl has the king’s seal, showing its imperial origin. Photo courtesy of Gazette Drouot
In October last year, a Nguyen Dynasty imperial court official’s headwear fetched EUR600,000 at an auction in Spain. A Nguyen Dynasty ceremonial dress was sold for EUR35,000.
In 2017, a Rolex Reference 6062 watch formerly owned by King Bao Dai was sold for over $5 million by watch auction house Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo in Switzerland, making it the most expensive Rolex watch at the time.
In 2015, a hand-drawn two-wheel vehicle used by Queen Tu Minh Hue, wife of the Nguyen Dynasty’s fifth ruler, Duc Duc, was acquired by the Hue Monuments Conservation Center for EUR45,000 from Rouillac auction house in France to be exhibited at the Hue Imperial City.