The Gong Fu Tie Calligraphy Soars over Expectations to Sell For $8.2 million

The Gong Fu Tie calligraphy.

NEW YORK – The Gong Fu Tie Calligraphy by Su Shi, one of the towering figures of early Chinese history, sold for $8,229,000 at Sotheby’s on Sept. 19, several times the pre-sale expectations of $1 million.

Six bidders—both in the auction room and on telephones—fought for the piece which currently leads the Fine Classical Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy auction. The 1,000-year-old calligraphy is just nine characters long and simply says: “Su Shi respectfully bids farewell to Gongfu, Gentleman Court Consultant.”

Su Shi is known as an author, politician, calligrapher, gastronome and pharmacologist, as well as artist. His position in Chinese culture is comparable to that of the European Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci. His writings and teachings have been hugely influential; his poem “Ode to the Red Cliffs” is considered to be one of the most magisterial texts in Chinese literature.

The appearance of a piece by Su Shi at auction is a practically unheard of event; of the approximately 50 known pieces by the artist, almost all are in private hands.

For more information about this item or the Fine Classical Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy auction, visit the Sotheby’s website.

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