The antique unknowingly sat in an elderly woman's home for about 50 years.

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ancient qianlong chinese vase at auction
Credit: Getty / ANTHONY WALLACE

Who doesn't want to fill their home with collectibles and family heirlooms? While just about everyone loves having beautiful, interesting décor pieces throughout their space, we can all agree that it's even sweeter when one of those prized antiques ends up being worth a fortune. According to House Beautiful, one senior woman living in a remote country home experienced this exact scenario. For the last 50 years, the woman displayed a vase that was originally bought for $56; recently, she learned that the pretty decoration was worth millions of dollars.

The vase in question, seen above, is a rare Chinese piece that dates back to the 18th century, and the extremely valuable artifact recently sold for 70.406 million Hong Kong dollars, which equals $9 million in the United States. Dutch art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal discovered the vase in the home of his client, who he says also had a number of other inherited pieces of art. After doing more research, Sotheby's Asia Chairman Nicolas Chow validated the worth of the piece and confirmed its history.

As for the vase's providence? It turns out that the woman was the proud owner of a yangcai reticulated vase stems from the Qianlong time period, the auction house reports. A court record dating back to 1742 noted that the vase was made for the Qianlong Emperor. The ruler admired the vase and noted it as a master work of art with its pear shape, bronze features, and Rococo flower design.

Sotheby's further discovered that the vase was originally stored in Qianqinggong—a palace designated for audiences and banquets held by the Qianlong Emperor. Sir Harry M. Garner and Henry M. Knight—Chinese art collectors—later owned the piece and kept it in the family for over 60 years. The auction house describes the piece as "a lost masterpiece of Chinese porcelain" and its intricate design as "the culmination of centuries of ingenuity in Chinese crafts."

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