An 18th century Chinese vase found in a shoebox in an attic in France recently sold for 16.2 million euros ($19.11 million, £14.2 million) at an auction in Paris, Reuters reported recently.
The price was more than 20 times the estimate of 500,000 euros to 700,000 euros auctioneers Sotheby’s had put on the item. It was the highest price reached for a single item sold by Sotheby’s in France.
The vase spent some of its life in an attic with other items that formed part of a family inheritance.
“The seller took the train, then the metro and walked to Sotheby’s and into my office with the vase in a shoe box protected by newspaper,” said Sotheby’s Asian arts expert, Olivier Valmier.
When she put the box on my desk and we opened it, we were all stunned by the beauty of the piece.
“This is a major work of art,” Valmier continued. “It is as if we had just discovered a Caravaggio.”
The 30cm vase, painted in delicate shades of green, blue, yellow and purple, was described as an exceptionally well-preserved porcelain vessel made for an emperor of the Qing dynasty.
It depicts deer, birds and other animals in a woodland setting. The vase bears a mark of the Qianlong Emperor who ruled China from 1736 to 1796.
“We didn’t like the vase much and my grandparents didn’t like it either,” said the owner of the piece, who got in touch with Sotheby’s in March.
A Sotheby’s spokeswoman said: “They knew it had some value but nothing like that, nor that it was from the Qing dynasty.”
The vase, which is in perfect condition, is the only known example in the world bearing such detail, said Valmier.
The 16.2 million euros ($19.11 million) sale price included 2 million euros in auction costs and commissions.
Sotheby’s has not revealed the name or nationality of the Asian buyer.