Culture / Auctions

Plain Looking Chinese Porcelain Vase Sold For €9 Million

Experts at the auction house estimated the vase to be worth just €2,000 but bidders thought otherwise.

Oct 06, 2022 | By Joseph Low

What seemed to be an ordinary Chinese vase estimated to fetch €2,000 has been sold for more than €9 million (including all the associated fees) in an auction in France. Nearly 4,000 times its estimated value, a bidding war ensued as interested buyers were convinced that the vase was a rare artefact from the 18th century. 

The French auction house Osenat said its experts authenticated the vase and concluded it was from the 20th century. If the vase had been 200 years older, it would have been worth significantly more and hence valued at €2,000. 

The tianqiuping-style porcelain vase features a blue and white design of dragons and clouds. On Osenat’s website, it was described as a “porcelain and polychrome enamel vase in the style of the blue-white with globular body and long cylindrical neck, decorated with nine fierce dragons and clouds”. Furthermore, the seller of this artefact had not even seen the 54cm-tall vase and currently resides in a French Overseas Territory. The vase was part of her mother’s estate that she inherited. She asked the auctioneer to sell it as part of a consignment of items taken from her mother’s home in Brittany. 

It was further reported that the vase originally belonged to her grandmother, a Parisian collector, who later on passed it to the seller’s mother when she passed.

According to CNN, about 300-400 people indicated their interest in bidding, but Osenat had limited the number of bidders to only 30 and they had to pay a deposit to participate. There were 15 telephone bidders and 15 bidders on site. “From the moment the catalogue was published we saw there was enormous interest, with more and more Chinese people coming to see the vase,” said Cédric Labord, a director at Osenat. “Our expert still thinks it’s not old.”

Eventually, the porcelain vase went to an anonymous Chinese buyer. Despite its run-of-the-mill appearance, the vase was popular among the Chinese bidders as they are known to be passionate about their history and take pride in possessing a part of it. Labord believes the vase would be put on display. 

The astronomical sum of the vase overshadowed the previous record of €4.2 million in 2007, which was the amount transacted for a sabre that Napoleon used at the Battle of Marengo in 1800.

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