On 14 March Freeman's held its annual spring Asian Arts auction, just before the start of New York Asia Week. The sale, comprised of an array of important and historic imperial works of art spanning several centuries achieved a total of $2.3 million. The top lot, a rare and important Chinese gilt bronze ritual bell, far exceeded original auction estimates selling for $725,000. Also known as bianzhong, this heavily cast gilt-bronze bell was an exclusive and important part of imperial court rituals and ceremonies. As depicted in court paintings, bianzhong would have been suspended in two tiers of eight over tall and elaborate wooden frames. A number of these bells were reputed to have left China during the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of these bells, particularly from the Kangxi and Qianlong periods, have resurfaced at auction over the past few decades. This particular bell was brought back to the United States by Lt. Peter Bartsch, who was a part of the China Relief Expedition in 1900. Lt. Bartsch passed away in 1928, and the bell had since been passed down through family.
All prices listed include the buyer's premium.