This old, rare wooden folding chair sold at auction for $8.5 million

Brittany A. Roston - Jun 5, 2021, 8:00am CDT
This old, rare wooden folding chair sold at auction for $8.5 million

Christie’s Hong Kong recently announced the results from multiple auctions, including one for a unique folding chair made of wood that was crafted and used in China during the 17th century. According to the auction house, the item sold at an amount several times higher than anticipated, ultimately going to the highest bidder for the equivalent of $8.5 million.

The auction was titled “A Magnificent and Exceedingly Rare Huanghuali Folding Horseshoe-Back Armchair, Jiaoyi, Late Ming-Early Qing Dynasty, 17th Century” and, according to Christie’s Hong Kong, it sold for more than 5.5 times the high estimate that had been made before the auction. The bidder purchased the 17th-century chair for $65,975,000 HK, which is the equivalent of about $8.5 million USD.

With the auction completed, this is officially the highest-ever bid for a huanghuali folding armchair. Christie’s Hong Kong says the auction battle took place over 10 ‘intense’ minutes spent in a bidding war over the phone. What makes the chair so special? The jiaoyi were a type of folding chair, but not all of these folding chairs were made the same.

While an average-use jiaoyi featured a straight back and no arms, the version made with a rounded ‘horse shoe’ back and arms were used exclusively by the imperial family. The folding nature of these chairs made it possible to transport them on long journeys, including on hunting excursions involving the emperor.

This particular chair is one of a very limited number of similar round-back jiaoyi made for the highest-ranking officials during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The rarity of it has made this chair the highest-valued of its kind thus far sold at auction, eclipsing the previous record auction bid of around $3.9 million.


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