Life
Couple Finds Grandparents' Old Vase Worth $19 Million
They had NO idea it would be a record-breaking value.
D.G. Sciortino
06.22.18

Most of our attics are stuffed with holiday decorations, luggage, old housewares, Halloween costumes, and junk we bought and never used.

But what if there was $19 million hiding in your attic?

Well, there was in a French family’s attic when they found a rare Qing dynasty vase tucked away in an old shoebox.

Sotheby's France
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Sotheby's France

According to Sotheby’s, the vase was discovered by chance. The vase was left to the grandparents of the present owners by an uncle.

The vase was listed among the content’s of the uncle’s apartment when he died in 1947.

It was listed among other items including additional Chinese porcelains, two dragon robes, a yellow silk textile, and a bronze mirror inside a lacquer box.

Sotheby's
Source:
Sotheby's

The current owner immediately brought the vase to Sotheby’s Paris to be appraised. It was there that they discovered that it was from the 18th century.

The auction was set between $590,000 to $825,000.

It ended up fetching much more than that, about $19 million. When Sotheby’s expert Olivier Valmier saw the vase he was shocked by its quality.

Sotheby's
Source:
Sotheby's

It was a Yangcai Familie-Rose porcelain vase bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor who ruled China from 1736 to 1795.

“The vase is of exceptional rarity: the only known example of its kind,” Sotheby’s said. “Famille Rose porcelains of the period (or yangcai porcelains, as they are known) are extremely rare on the market, with most examples currently housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and other museums around the world.”

YouTube Screenshot
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YouTube Screenshot

A Famille-Rose porcelain bowl actually sold in Hong Kong for more than $30 million in April.

The owner’s of the vase, however, didn’t find it tasteful.

“We didn’t like the vase too much, and my grandparents didn’t like it either,” one of them told Agence France-Presse.

YouTube Screenshot
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YouTube Screenshot

They are also placing the mirror and box up for auction with Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s chairman of Asian Art for Europe and the Americans Henry Howard-Snyed said he believes that more discoveries like this will occur in the future.

“Chinese art has been admired and collected across Europe for centuries, but the importance of certain pieces is occasionally lost over time,” he said. “Given the huge appetite for Chinese art among today’s collectors, now is the moment to scour your homes and attics, and to come to us with anything you might find!”
YouTube Screenshot
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YouTube Screenshot

So you might want to start cleaning out your closets and drawers folks.

The vase started an intense 25-minute bidding war that fetched more than 20 times its guide price.

The 18th-century relic is the single most expensive item sold at Sotheby’s Paris and the most expensive piece of Chinese porcelain ever sold in France. Shocking considering it arrive wrapped in newspaper inside a shoebox!

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
Dina is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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