Chinese vase found in shoebox sells for £14m

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

The vase - which was given a pre-sale estimate of £700,000 - sold for a total of £14,249,000 including fees at an auction by Sotheby's in Paris.

It went for more than 20 times its estimated price tag of €500,000. It was the highest price reached for a single item sold by Sotheby's in France.

Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's chairman of Asian Art, Europe and Americas, said: 'Chinese art has been admired and collected across Europe for centuries, but the importance of certain pieces is occasionally lost over time.

"When she put the box on my desk and we opened it we were all stunned by the beauty of the piece", he said.

It depicts deer, birds and other animals in a wood and includes gold embroidery around its neck.

The 30 cm, bulb-shaped vase, painted in shades of green, blue, yellow and purple, was described as an exceptionally well-preserved porcelain vessel made for an emperor of the Qing dynasty.

The vase had been left to the grandparents of the seller by an uncle and was listed among the contents of the latter's Paris apartment after his death in 1947.

The exact history of the vase before this has not been traced.

A Sotheby's spokesman said the family knew it was valuable but not to the extent it sold, nor that it was part of the Qing dynasty.

Olivier Valmier, a specialist at the auction house, identified it as an Imperial 18th century "Yangcai" Famille-Rose porcelain vase, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

"While the exact provenance of the vase before 1947 can not be traced, the receipt of a Satsuma censer acquired as a wedding gift in the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris by an ancestor of the family suggests an active interest in Asian art at a very early date".

The astonishing price was paid by an Asian buyer, after a long auction which lasted around 20 minutes and involved multiple bidders.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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