The 127 lots had formed part of the Florence and Herbert Irving gift of 1275 pieces made to the museum in 2015. At the time, the Irvings agreed that the Met could sell any of the works to fund acquisitions.
The auction was led by a spinach-green jade ‘dragon cloud’ washer – a 12in (30cm) Qianlong copy of an immense Yuan period jade basin that was rediscovered in 1745. Following the conquest of Xinjiang in 1759 and improved access to jade boulders from Khotan, the emperor commissioned 40 copies in three sizes.
This one, incised to the well with a 48-character poem by the emperor dated for 1769, fetched $1.1m (£880,000) plus premium – more than ten times its low estimate.
A further 200-plus objects from the Irving gift were offered on September 14.