July 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. casino owner Steve Wynn paid 8 million pounds ($12.8 million) at a London auction last night for a set of four 18th-century Chinese porcelain vases that will decorate his new resort in Macau.
The 4-foot (1.2 meter) vases, painted with Buddhist and Taoist emblems and embellished with 19th-century gilded metal mounts, were the most expensive of 50 lots at Christie’s International’s “Exceptional’’ sale in the U.K. capital.
Sold by a private collector, the Jiaqing period (1796-1821) vases had formerly been in the collection of the Scottish aristocrats, the Dukes of Buccleuch, and had been estimated at 600,000 pounds to 1 million pounds.
After the auction, the casino-owner’s leisure group said the vases had been bought by Wynn Resorts Macau Ltd. for its new Cotai Resort Hotel, scheduled to open in 2015. It was also the buyer of a Chinoiserie tapestry for 169,250 pounds.
“We are delighted to return works of this extraordinary quality to the city of Macau and the People’s Republic of China,” Roger Thomas, executive vice president of Design for Wynn Design and Development, said after the sale.
Thomas was bidding at the auction while on the telephone to Steve Wynn, said Christie’s. The event raised 28.8 million pounds with 36 of the lots selling.
The predicted highlight of the sale had been 17th-century bronze of a mythological figure by the Dutch sculptor Adriaen de Vries, estimated at 5 million pounds to 8 million pounds.
Found in the garden of a castle in Austria, the discovery was tipped by dealers to fetch a record price for a pre-20th-century European sculpture. The work was withdrawn the night before the sale after new information emerged about its ownership history.
“We were recently informed of additional information, about which we were unaware, that affects the validity of the existing export license for this recently discovered work,’’ Christie’s said in an e-mailed statement. “As we take strict compliance with export regulation extremely seriously we have withdrawn the sculpture and the application has been resubmitted.”
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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