Chinese vase found in attic sells for $19m

By BO LEUNG | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-14 07:50
This vase gathering dust in a loft turned out to be a hugely-important Chinese vase which has sold after a tense auction room battle. [Photo/VCG]

Unsuspecting owners brought the treasure in a shoe box for valuation

A long-forgotten and rare Chinese imperial vase discovered in the attic of a family home in France was sold for 16.2 million euros ($19 million) at Sotheby's in Paris on Tuesday.

The sale was more than 30 times the estimate as experts set a guide price for the vase-decorated with deer and cranes-at 500,000 euros.

The recently discovered treasure sparked a 20-minute bidding battle.

Reuters reported that the buyer was Asian but the auction house did not wish to reveal the name or nationality.

The amount is the highest ever recorded for Chinese porcelain by the auction house in Paris.

Sotheby's said the vase is of exceptional rarity and the only known example of its kind, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95).

The 18th century porcelain vase was found by chance among dozens of other pieces of Chinoiseries in an attic by its unsuspecting owners, who then brought the vase to the auction house in a shoe box for valuation.

When Olivier Valmier, Sotheby's Asian arts expert, opened the box to examine the vase, he was immediately struck by its quality.

"This is a major work of art, it is as if we had just discovered a Caravaggio," he said before the sale.

The vase had been left to the great-grandparents of the present owners by an uncle and appears among the listed contents of his Paris apartment after he passed away in 1947.

Valmier said the seller, "took the train, then the metro and walked on foot through the doors of Sotheby's and into my office with the vase in a shoe box protected by newspaper".

He added: "When she put the box on my desk and we opened it we were all stunned by the beauty of the piece."

However, the exact provenance of the item before 1947 cannot be traced.

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