HÀ NỘI — A Vietnamese mandarin hat said to be from the Nguyễn Dynasty has sold for 600,000 euros (about VNĐ15.6 billion) at an auction in Barcelona, Spain.
The initial price offered by Balclis Auction House was 500-600 euros. However, when the auction opened, many bidders participated, causing the price of the antique hat to increase by 1,200 times compared to the estimate.
In the end, this Nguyễn Dynasty antique was sold for 600,000 euros, excluding tax, to an anonymous Vietnamese collector.
A Vietnamese mandarin hat believed to be from the Nguyễn Dynasty has sold for 600,000 euros at an auction in Spain. — Photo courtesy of Balclis Auction House
According to sources of Việt Nam News, the final bidder is a businessman with a special love for Huế. He was determined to bring this mandarin hat back to Việt Nam and will donate this artifact to Huế at the right time.
On the website of Balclis Auction House, the hat was simply described as "Vietnamese Mandarin cap from the Nguyen Dynasty, late 19th century-early 20th century".
It comes with a box in lacquered and gilded wood, and has "some flaws and defects", the website said.
The photo of the hat presented by the auction house on the website has attracted the attention of many Vietnamese researchers and experts because it appears to be intact.
Many researchers, restorers and traders of Nguyễn Dynasty antiques in Việt Nam said this is the most intact and beautiful chánh nhất phẩm (first-rank) mandarin hat they have ever seen.
In Việt Nam, at museums and houses of Nguyễn Dynasty descendants, there are only hats from the third-rank (tam phẩm) and all are restored or damaged hats.
Experts said this is not the first time antiques from the Nguyễn Dynasty have been auctioned abroad at a huge price.
According to a representative of the Huế Monuments Conservation Center, in 2014, the centre was authorised by the People's Committee of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province to participate in the auction of an Nguyễn Dynasty rickshaw in France.
The rickshaw is said to be a present of Emperor Thành Thái to his mother, Empress Dowager Từ Minh, to use in the royal garden.
With the support of the Embassy of Việt Nam in France, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as well as the Vietnamese community at home and abroad, the rickshaw was successfully acquired at a price of 55,800 euros.
In 2015, after more than 100 years in France, the rickshaw was transported to Việt Nam by air and is now on display at Diên Thọ Palace in the Huế Citadel, where the empress dowagers of the Nguyễn Dynasty used to live. — VNS