Chinese vase that had been left long-forgotten inside the attic of a home in France was discovered recently and brought to auction in Paris, where it sold for a whopping 16.2 million euros ($19 million).
That amount is the highest ever for an item of Chinese porcelain sold by Sotheby’s in Paris. Prior to the auction, experts put its guide price at 500,000 euros, an estimate that the vase managed to surpass more than 30 times over at the end of an intense 20-minute bidding war.
The identity and nationality of the vase’s buyer was not revealed, though he/she was identified in reports as being Asian.
Sotheby’s says that the vase is an exceptionally rare, beautiful, and well-preserved piece made for the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796) in the imperial workshops of Jingdezhen. Similar yangcai porcelains are exceedingly rare outside of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
The vase was recently found in the attic of its unsuspecting owners who placed it in a shoebox, protected it with a newspaper, and then took the metro to the Sotheby’s offices. The vase had been left to the great-grandparents of the present owners by an uncle. It’s not clear how he came to be in possession of the piece which used to belong to the emperor of China, however, many Chinese treasures were ransacked from the Old Summer Palace when it was destroyed by French and British forces in 1860 and throughout the 19th century there was a brisk trade in Chinese antiques.
The family knew the object was valuable, they just didn’t know how valuable. Additionally, they apparently weren’t too fond of the vase’s design, so selling it away was a no-brainer.
“We didn’t like the vase too much, and my grandparents didn’t like it either,” the owner was quoted as saying.