This is a 2004 article I came across today in the Art &Antiques journal. A horrendous tragedy that happend more than 400 years ago makes a lot of money for Chinese Ceramic restoration exerts and dealers.
“Loaded with tens of thousands of Ming dynasty ceramics, the Chinese ship Binh Thuan was heading for Japan and Southeast Asia when it sank near Vietnam around 1608. The March 2004 sale of the Binh Thuan cargo at Christie’s Australia marked the first major auction of Chinese shipwreck ceramics in four years. It included some 17,000 salvaged pieces of ceramics. Many lots went for several times their estimates. By the end, paddle-waving fatigue seemed to have set in: Underglaze blue-and-white bowls (bird bowl, above, right) could be had for less than $10 each, one-tenth of the estimate.
At a time when fake Imperial wares are becoming increasingly hard to detect, the Binh Thuan pieces came with the bonus of a watertight provenance and no taint of illegal excavation. It was “a remarkable opportunity for collectors to obtain legitimate shipwreck treasure,” says Roger McIlroy, chairman of Christie’s Australia.
Prior to the Binh Thuan sale, the last major auction of Chinese shipwreck ceramics occurred at the German auction house Nagel in 2000. It included some 350,000 Qing dynasty wares from the Tek Sing cargo and was so massive that observers wondered whether the market would be saturated indefinitely. For more information, call Christie s Australia at 011 61 39 820 4311.”