The 2900-year-old Chinese bronze vessel. (image courtesy of the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China and Luo Zheng).

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Stolen Chinese gui returns to museum

A 2900-year-old Chinese bronze vessel that was stolen 40 years ago has been returned to China following a repatriation ceremony.

The bronze gui, a type of bowl-shaped ritual vessel, dates to the Western Zhou dynasty (c.1045-771BC).

It had been excavated in 1978 at Qican, Shaanxi, and had been part of the collection of the Fufeng County Museum. However, it was stolen in 1984.

The vessel was later purchased by Yien-Koo King and her son Raymond King in Taiwan in the 1980s, who were unaware of its recent history. It resided in her apartment in New York until consigned for sale at Sotheby’s in 2022.

Using the Art Loss Register (ALR) database, the auction house found that it was in fact stolen. The vessel was returned to the People’s Republic of China at a ceremony at the Portland Art Museum.

Vinciguerra leaves his Bonhams role

Bonhams is searching for a new executive chairman and global CEO as Bruno Vinciguerra steps down. He had led Bonhams since it was bought by private equity firm Epiris in 2018.

Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, executive chair of Bonhams, who joined the board in 2020, will lead the company in the interim. Hoejsgaard has more than 30 years’ experience in management at luxury, retail consumer goods businesses.

‘Largest auction space in Europe’

John Pye Auctions has purchased the freehold on a new 350,000 sq ft site at Cradley Heath, Birmingham, which it describes as the “largest auction sales space in Europe”.

As part of its £15m investment the premises will provide space for 50 salerooms to support existing clients’ stock as well as new business and create a new central hub to hold stock. For the last financial year ending July 31, 2023 the business had a record-breaking year, with sales of £45m, up 36% on the previous year. New bidder registrations were also up 90% year on year.

Moore at Mitchells as Wise steps down


James Moore replaces Mark Wise at Mitchells.

Mitchells auction house has appointed James Moore as head of antiques, fine art and country sports to run its saleroom in Cockermouth. He was previously salesroom manager. He takes over from Mark Wise who is stepping down after more than 30 years with the Cumbrian firm.

Wise will continue as a non-executive director on Mitchells’ board and remain in a consultant capacity for conti nuity, includi ng occasional appearances auctioneering in the saleroom.

Wise said: “The board has every confidence that James and the new saleroom manager, James Warwick, will continue to build a thriving business into the future.”

Nicholson joins Adam’s of Dublin


Nathaniel Nicholson has joined Adam’s.

Dublin auction house Adam’s has hired Nathaniel Nicholson as associate director and head of valuations. He previously worked in the private and iconic collections department at Christie’s in London.

At Adam’s he will be focusing on professional valuation work for the legal and financial advisory professions, as well as providing valuation and planning advice for private clients, working with the existing team of general and specialist valuers.

Branfield preview comes to London


The Warren, St Ives, c.1930 by Dorothea Sharp (1874- 1955) estimated at £2000-3000 at Lay’s on February 29.

The Art Collection of Pep and John Branfield, coming to auction at Cornish saleroom Lay’s on February 29, will be previewed in London at 6 Mason’s Yard on February 13-17. Its first preview was part of a museum show in Penzance at the Penlee House Gallery & Museum (as reported in ATG No 2617).

Collectors Pep and John Branfield amassed local works of art over the past 50 years from paintings to ceramics. More than 190 lots will be offered at Lay’s in Penzance and the collection spans Newlyn School and St Ives artists including works by Stanhope Forbes and Alfred Wallis to Terry Frost and Peter Lanyon.

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In Numbers


The number of publicly owned murals to be digitised by art education charity Art UK.

The three-year project – funded with a £250,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (plus support from Pilgrim Trust and Historic England) – will help raise awareness of this art form and create a digital record of artworks at risk of damage or destruction. Art UK has been working on digitally recording all public artworks in the UK and has recorded 50,000 sculptures and catalogued all the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings.