JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
Submitted by: Editor
$83 Million Reasons Why The Rich Aren’t Hurting
In fact, the vast amounts of disposable cash suddenly being spent in art auctions proves that the wealthy were simply sitting on their fortunes waiting out the economic decline. They never had any intention or incentive to reinvest in anything but their own implacable egos.
Over this past weekend, a painted Chinese vase dating from the Qing Dysnasty, 1740, sold at a small London auction house called Bainbridges for over 40 times the pre-sale estimate. The winning bid from a Chinese buyer of $83 million set a record for the auction house as well as a record for Chinese artifacts.
"I'm an auctioneer, so at that point I'm just doing the professional job I'm paid to do. But once the hammer's down you do take stock slightly and think, 'Oh, wow, that's really rather a lot of money,'" said Bainbridge, whose $13.9 million buyer's premium is included in the sale price. [WAPO]
Many Chinese artifacts surfaced in Britain in the 19th century, having been looted from Beijing's Summer Palace when it was sacked by British and French troops at the end of the Second Opium War in 1860.
Painted sky blue and imperial yellow and adorned with medallions depicting leaping goldfish, the 16-inch vase dates from the Qing dynasty, a time when Chinese porcelain-making was at its pinnacle. Made for the personal collection of Emperor Qianlong and bearing the imperial seal, experts said it was an exceptional piece. [WAPO]
The previous record holder for absurdly wasteful spending is a 45-foot-long 11th-century scroll elaborately decorated with calligraphy that sold for nearly $64 million in Beijing this past June.