Sheppard’s Irish Auctioneers in Durrow have set a new Irish record for the highest price paid for a piece of decorative art.
Last Thursday, November 29, a small 18th century Chinese seal made of white jade sold for an astounding €630,000, having been valued at between €3,000 to €5,000.
The atmosphere in the auction room is reported to have ranged from stunned silence to nervous laughter to spontaneous applause, as two Chinese bidders, one on the phone and the other online, went head to head to claim the item. In the space of 25 minutes, bidding went up in steps of €2,000 to the final figure, more than double the previous Irish record set at €310,000.
Auctioneer Philip Sheppard says there was no way of predicting the final price.
“It was an extraordinary result. When two well funded collectors with a gap in their collections compete, it is a serious moment. You can’t know when that is going to happen,” he said.
The publicity around the huge sale is good for their business and for Laois he says.
“We have had a hugely positive response from the local community. We do have a national profile, but this certainly re-inforces it. It is great for the county, it shows you can do business here and connect with a global platform. That was unimaginable in the past,” he said.
The family run business was set up by Philips’s uncle Christy Sheppard after the second world war. Still living in Erkina House, Durrow, he will celebrate his 90th birthday on December 21.
“He watched the entire thing online from his armchair.” said Philip.
The white jade seal from the Qing Dynasty belonged to a Parisien collecter, Marie Louise Beauvoir. It is just 3 cm high, with a carved dragon on top.
In the day long auction, 200 pieces of Asian art went under the hammer, including a late 18th century blue and white Chinese vase, sold by a Carlow based collector, which went for €180,000, having been valued at €150,000 to €200,000.
The next major sale for Sheppards Irish Auction House is in February.