700-Year-Old Chinese Scroll Sold For $41.8 Million

Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images

Elizabeth Louise Contributor
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A 700-year-old Chinese painted scroll was sold at a Sotheby’s auction Thursday in Hong Kong for $41.8 million dollars (306.6 million Hong Kong dollars), according to the Associated Press (AP).

The 6.6 foot tall scroll is titled, “Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback.” The scroll is painted by renowned Chinese artist and government official, Ren Renfa, per the AP.

The painting depicts the five princes riding horses with four attendants. One of the princes depicted in the painting is Li Longji, who would later became the longest-reigning Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

The painted scroll has been documented in imperial collections and bears a collection of seals, including those of several emperors.

In 1922, the “Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback” scroll was transported out of the Forbidden City by Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, after the fall of the Qing dynasty.

The artwork was initially estimated to sell between about $10 million and $15.5 million.  Many of Ren’s 21 paintings are held in museums or are owned by private collectors. (RELATED: Stolen Calligraphy Scroll Worth Millions Found Cut In Half)

“This painting depicts the story of the five drunken princes after they had a very happy time, and then they got drunk and went back home,” explained Sally Fong, a specialist of classical Chinese paintings at Sotheby’s.

Fong continued to explain, “Among the five princes, one of them is the future emperor. In this painting, we can see that he was depicted as the one who can tolerate the drunkenness, to go back home together with the other drunken princes.”