Rare masterpiece – ancient 18th-century Chinese vase once sold at auction for just £44 ($56), went under the hammer for over 70 million Hong Kong dollars ($9 million) at Sotheby’s auction.
The highly unusual vase in which a blue-and-white floral design is visible through the object’s lattice-like body was made specifically for the Qianlong Emperor, who ruled China for more than 60 years.
Sotheby’s credits the discovery to Amsterdam-based art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal, who found the vase at a country home. The owner, who is in her 80s, is believed to have inherited the item.
Commenting on it, Sotheby’s Asia President Nicolas Chow in a pre-sale press release said, “It is a miracle that this remarkably fragile vase has survived half a century in a house surrounded by countless pets.”
This decorative 16-inch vase started at a not-inconsequential $800,000, but after a half-hour of unexpectedly spirited bidding, the gavel fell at $69.5 million. It was the highest price ever paid at auction for a Chinese antiquity.