It's a crazy story: a woman thought she owned an ordinary Chinese vase, it was sold for 9 million euros

Steph Deschamps / October 2, 2022

The owner of a Chinese vase, initially estimated at a maximum of 2,000 euros, saw its price soar at auction to over 9 million euros. The vase was offered by the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau near Paris, among a collection of furniture and various works of art.
 
The seller, who lives in a French overseas territory, "is a lady who inherited the vase from her mother, who herself inherited it from her mother, a great Parisian collector in the last century," explained to AFP the director of art objects of Osenat, Cedric Laborde. The object was part of the possessions left by the seller's mother at her death, in her apartment in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, on the Breton coast. The saleswoman "was far away, she did not even see the vase, she had it transported to Paris. This is a crazy story," said auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat.
 
This Tianqiuping vase, blue and white, in porcelain and polychrome enamels, with drawings of dragons and clouds, is 54 cm high and 40 cm in diameter. Estimated by the experts between 1,500 and 2,000 euros, it was won thanks to a bid of 7.7 million euros, for a price - including expenses - of 9.121 million euros. 
 
The question is to know from which period it dates. If it is from the 20th century as the experts have concluded, the object is relatively commonplace. If it's from the 18th century, that makes it an extremely rare piece, justifying the purchase price. "From the moment we made the catalog public, we saw that there was a lot of movement: the Chinese were coming to see the vase, more and more. The expert said he still thought it was not ancient," Laborde said.
 
The sale gave rise to a bidding battle between 20 to 30 bidders, the majority on the phone, some in the room. The buyer was Chinese. "The Chinese are passionate about their history and are proud to take back their heritage. I think this vase is not meant to be hidden from view, but exhibited in a museum," according to the auction house executive. As for the seller, she was stunned by the news. "She could have sold it to the local antique dealer. It's a great story for this lady, and for my business, for the very principle of public sales," Laborde said.
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