A pair of Chinese carved Rhinoceros horns sold in Auckland last night for a record price of $797,000 – one of the highest globally.
The 19th century horns were sold at Webb's Auction House and are the rarest Chinese antiques to be offered in New Zealand.
They originally belonged to Sir John Budd Phear, who was a High Court judge in Ceylon and an anthropologist who wrote a book entitled The Aryan Village in India and Ceylon. Sir John died in 1905.
His son, Gilbert Phear, was an engineer in the Indian service in Ceylon and migrated to New Zealand in the early 20th century.
Mr Phear married the current owner's grandmother, and the horns have been passed down by descent.
The antiques were estimated to sell for $120,000 to $150,000, but exceeded that price by more than 450 percent.
There is high global demand for Rhinoceros horns and their rarity has driven the price per kilo to exceed that of gold, platinum and cocaine.
It's believed there are only between 3000 and 4000 carved horns worldwide.
The intricate Chinese carvings represent beauty, perseverance, healing and longevity.
Historically it was believed rhino horns contained healing powers, which continue to make them an expensive component of traditional Chinese medicine.
Webb's Auction House says the owner is "ecstatic" with the price, especially after declining several pre-sale offers within the estimate range.