The auction took place both online and onsite on Thursday. On the Balclis auction house website, the cap was simply described as “Vietnamese Mandarin cap from the Nguyen dynasty, late 19th century-early 20th century.”
It comes with a lacquered and gilded wooden box, and has “some flaws and flaws,” says the site.
The item was presented on October 20 with an initial price of € 500. The price of € 600,000 was reached after more than 10 bidders tried to get their hands on the item. The latest bidder is an anonymous online collector.
Tran Dinh Son, a researcher, said the cap belonged to a high-ranking Mandarin, that it was well preserved and similar to the artifacts on display in Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which means that it did not was not that rare. Before 1945, several families buried the caps with the deceased mandarins or kept them for worship.
“I am surprised to learn that the cap has reached an all-time high. In Vietnam, a similar item could be sold for around $ 10,000,” he said, adding that it was a pity that the cap could not not be traced back to its owner, as such information would increase its cultural value.
Vu Kim Loc, a craftsman specializing in restoring Nguyen dynasty caps, said he was not surprised to see the cap fetch a high price at an overseas auction. He said that there were only about five to seven similar mandarin caps in Vietnam, and caps belonging to high-ranking mandarins were even rarer.
“In addition, I think the credibility of the auction house is also very important in gaining the trust of customers. If they were to post fake items, it would only damage their reputation.”
At another auction on the same day, a ceremonial costume from the Nguyen Dynasty started at € 800 and sold for € 35,000.
Son said Vietnamese artifacts have started to gain traction in the international auction scene over the past five years, thanks to wealthy Vietnamese abroad who have helped spread the word.
Historian Duong Trung Quoc said that the fact that Vietnamese artifacts are in high demand abroad is a testament to Vietnam’s culture and history. However, he said, it also means that the Vietnamese artifacts “were being lost” and found abroad, a problem that has yet to be resolved.
“Due to wars and natural disasters, many valuable items have fallen into the hands of Western collectors, and those found inside Vietnam are few. I think the government should start an investigation of the items in countries like the United States, France and Spain, and try to claim them either through diplomatic or legal means. Artifacts don’t just have monetary value; more importantly, they hold cultural values, ” did he declare.
In July, a sword of Emperor Thanh Thai was auctioned in the United States for a starting price of $ 5,000. In 2001, eBay auctioned off items found in a wreck near the Cham Islands in central Vietnam.