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Estimated ‘in excess of’ HK$100m at the auction today (October 3), it was knocked down at HK$260m (£24.9m) to an anonymous buyer. The auctioneers said no further details could be released when asked by ATG.

Dating from the late Northern Song (960-1127) dynasty, the brush washer was commissioned by the imperial court and fired at Ru guanyao, the most revered of the Five Great Kilns.

The price is particularly notable since, while many Song dynasty pieces were in high demand from Japanese collectors a generation ago, values for works of art from this period have lagged behind those of imperial Ming and Qing dynasty porcelain which tend to be more highly prized by Chinese buyers.

This 5in (13cm) brush washer, formerly in the collection of the Chang Foundation in the Hongxi Museum, Taipei, was much admired for its understated aesthetics with a blue-green glaze and complex interlaced ‘ice crackle’ pattern. It is one of only four known Ru wares in private hands.

The price fetched eclipsed the previous auction high for Chinese porcelain which was set in April 2014 when Sotheby’s sold a tiny Chenghua period ‘chicken cup’ for a hammer price of HK$250m (£21.5m).

The previous auction record for Song ceramics was also held by Sotheby’s Hong Kong when an Ruyao brush washer from the Northern Song dynasty sold for HK$207.86m (including premium) in April 2012.