Chinese vase found in shoebox sells for £14m

Chinese vase

The vase - which is decorated with idealised images of deer and cranes from the imperial summer hunting grounds at Mulan in northern China - was found by chance among dozens of other pieces of Chinoiserie in the attic of a house in France earlier this year.

The vase, which was stored for decades along with other items inherited by the French seller, fetched the highest price reached for a single item sold by auction house Sotheby's.

The vase spent some of its life stashed in an attic with other items that formed part of an inheritance.

The vase achieved a record for any Chinese porcelain sold at auction in France after it went under the hammer in Paris.

The auctioned vase was left to the great-grandparents of the present owners by an uncle.

Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's chairman of Asian Art, Europe and Americas, said: 'Chinese art has been admired and collected across Europe for centuries, but the importance of certain pieces is occasionally lost over time.

The 30 cm, bulb-shaped vase, painted in delicate shades of green, blue, yellow and purple, was described as an exceptionally well-preserved porcelain vessel made for an emperor of the Qing dynasty.

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"We didn't like the vase too much and my grandparents didn't like it either", the owner of the piece said, Channel News Asia reported.

Olivier Valmier, a specialist at the auction house, identified it as an Imperial 18th century "Yangcai" Famille-Rose porcelain vase, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

He added: "This is a major work of art.it is as if we had just discovered a Caravaggio".

A Sotheby's spokeswoman said: "They knew it had some value but nothing like that, nor that it was from the Qian dynasty".

The auction lasted 20 minutes, which is a long time for that kind of sale, as multiple bidders fought for the ornament.

The buyer was Asian but the firm did not wish to reveal the name or nationality.

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