A brother and sister is London did exactly this when they found the Chinese vase during a routine house clearance.
It sold for a world record £53 million yesterday. The 18th century piece is branded ‘one of the most important Chinese vases to be offered this century’ – was found at a house in Ruislip, north-west London, which was cleared by siblings after their parents died. The original estimate for it was between £800,000 and £1.2million.
The brother and sister had inherited the vase along with various other items from the house, but as the auctioneer at Bainbridges auction house stated, they really had no clue what it was or any idea of its true value.
According to research by the auction house, the Qianlong Chinese porcelain vase made around 1735 to 1796 during the reign of Qianlong – the fourth emperor in the Qing dynasty. It probably left China around 1860 and was last known to be bought by an English family in the 1930s, but after that its history is a little bit of a mystery.
The auction house had given the vase an estimated valuation of £1.2 million, but as with any auction this would depend on the right buyers being prepared to pay quite a substantial price. By the end of the auction however the price had well exceeded the estimate and the final bid was a massive £43 million which is believed to be a record for any Chinese artworks.
On top of this, the buyer who is believed to be from China, will also have to pay £8.3 million in auction fees.
The 18th century porcelain vase from the Qing - pronounced 'ching' - dynasty fetched the highest price for any Chinese artwork sold at auction. The 16-inch high piece was discovered during a house clearance by a brother and sister in the London suburb of Pinner.
Last night, Helen Porter, of auctioneers Bainbridges, revealed: "They had no idea what they had.
"They were hopeful but they didn't dare believe until the hammer went down.
"When it did, the sister had to go out of the room and have a breath of fresh air."
The vase, with a fish design, was only expected to fetch up to £1.2million. It is understood to have been carried off by a private buyer from China.
It dates from the time of Emperor Qianlong, who reigned from 1735 to 1796.
The auctioneer described the vase as "a piece of exquisite beauty".
The work has a yellow painted trumpet neck and a double-walled construction, meaning an inner vase can be seen through perforations on the main body.
It sold for £43 million and commission and VAT took the total price to an astonishing £53,105,000
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