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12th-century Chinese instrument sells for $20 million at auction

It seems there has been a bit of a craze lately for Chinese antiquities. The latest artifact to sell is a traditional stringed instrument which was made for the Chinese emperor Song Huizong in 1120. It just sold for a staggering $20 million.

The seven-stringed guqin, a zither-like instrument which came to represent the refined tastes of China’s imperial court, was auctioned on Sunday by Poly International Auction, the Beijing Times reported.

Bidding for the wooden instrument inlaid with gold, silver, deer antler and pearl began at 16 million yuan, the newspaper said.

The final purchase price was a record amount for the auction of an ancient guqin, it said.

The instrument’s value was further enhanced with an engraving of the seal of Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong in 1742.

After disappearing from the imperial collection about the time of Qianlong, the instrument later resurfaced at the Summer Palace, which was sacked by a joint French-English military expedition in 1860, the paper said.

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