An unusual underglaze copper-red Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) vase sold for HK$ 78.52 million (US$ 10.13 million) in Hong Kong yesterday, setting a world auction record for Ming porcelain.
Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, who has purchased some of the most expensive Impressionist works at auction in recent years to furnish his Las Vegas casinos, made a surprise appearance at the Hong Kong sales. The rich and wealthy-Wynn went on to pay the world record price for a small, beautiful, copper red and white porcelain Ming vase – 78,520,000 Hong Kong dollars ( About US$10.2m).
Wynn, who is about to open his first casino in Macao in third quarter of this year, said that he would donate it to a museum in Macao.
For decades,Wynn, 64, the son of a small-time gambler who rana string of bingo parlors in the eastern United States, has been collecting on a heroic scale and being mocked by the art establishment for his pains.
When he bulk-purchased Picassos and Cezannes a few years ago, he expended more than $ 25m (£13.3m) in 24 hours in New York and put the pictures on the walls of his casino hotels. However, he was indicted for buying “by the yard” and of paying too much for second-rate pictures.
The magnificient vase he bought at the Christie’s Imperial Sale in Hong Kong yesterday was lovely, an exceptionally rare Hongwu period – that is, 14th century – Ming vase, decorated in copper red scrolling flowers and in pristine condition.
It was assumed he was buying the extraordinary vase for his ultimate hotel, the Wynn Las Vegas, which is said to have cost $ 2.7bn to build and has the Cirque du Soleil as in-house cabaret, shops including a Ferrari Maserati dealership, an enormous casino and 2,716 rooms – a lot of wall and shelf space to fill, but on contrary, he announced he was sending it back to China, giving it to a Macau museum where it can be enjoyed by all.
With the announcement, he may finally have left his critics dumb.