18th-Century Moon Jar Sold for $2.6 Million at Auction

Jonathan Feel
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An 18th-century moon jar (47.5 cm high) from the Joseon Dynasty has found a new owner for about USD 2.6 million, the highest price ever achieved for a Joseon white porcelain at auction in Korea. The previous highest price was about $2.36 million (2019, Seoul Auction). Overseas, moon jars have traded at higher prices. A moon jar that sold for $4.56 million (45.1 cm high) at Christie’s New York in March 2023 holds the record for the most expensive moon jar ever sold.

A 47.5 cm high moon jar found a new owner for about $2.6 million. Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.
A 47.5 cm high moon jar found a new owner for about $2.6 million. Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Seoul Auction, which held the most recent sale, said, “Moon jars over 40 cm in height were mainly used by the royal family, and there are only about 20 remaining pieces, including national treasures,” adding, “This winning moon jar was made in the first half of the 18th century.” The moon jar, which was listed for about $2.67 million before the auction, adjusted its starting price to about $2.44 million. The winning bid was made for about $2.6 million to a written bidder, not an auction house. The winning bidder’s identity has not yet been revealed. 

While both Korean and foreign auction markets have entered a period of adjustment this year, moon jars are noticeable among Korean artworks on auction. A different moon jar sold for $3.57 million (45.2 cm) at Sotheby’s New York in September of 2023. The recent results demonstrate that interest in Korean moon jars is high both at home and abroad.

Despite the fact that this 47.5 cm high 18th-century moon jar was taller than the previous Christie’s and Sotheby’s entries, it sold at a lower price than expected, proving that the Korean art auction market is in a slump. Some market observers have suggested that this is due to the Cultural Property Protection Act, which prohibits overseas sales if items created more than 50 years ago are judged to have high historical, academic, and artistic value.

There is an opportunity to promote the charm of Korean crafts such as moon jars in the Middle East. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced that it will showcase 26 crafts by six Korean artists at the “Downtown Design Dubai” event, held in Dubai, UAE from November 8 to 11, 2023. Among them, the work of Jian Yoo, who makes moon jars, will also be introduced. Jian Yoo is the producer of a moon jar (“The Moon White”) that was presented to President Joe Biden and his wife when South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol visited the United States in April. The moon jar she made features different colors shining like jewels depending on the angle of view.

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Jonathan Feel
Jonathan Feel

Jonathan Feel is a reporter and editor for Auction Daily in Korea. He has been active in various fields such as the media, social economy, village community, and fair trade coffee industry and is writing. It is recognized that art is not far from society and the times, and that art can be a tool for the sustainability of the Earth and mankind. He hopes that good works and artists in Korea will meet with readers.

김이준수는 한국 주재 옥션데일리 필진이자 편집자이다. 언론, 사회적경제, 마을공동체, 공정무역 커피업계 등 다양한 분야에서 활동했고 글을 쓰고 있다. 예술이 사회·시대와 동떨어져 있지 않으며, 예술이 지구와 인류의 지속가능성을 위한 도구가 될 수 있음을 인식하고 있다. 한국의 좋은 작품과 아티스트를 많이 소개하고 싶다.

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