Auction House Said Vase Was Ordinary. Bidders Disagreed

Valued at $2K, it went for almost 4K times that amount
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2022 11:00 AM CDT
Updated Oct 8, 2022 4:30 PM CDT
Chinese Vase Sells for 4K Times Its Estimated Value
The vase.   (Osenat)

A French auction house says it ended up with not just a Chinese vase, but also a "crazy story." A Parisian collector purchased the vase at least 30 years ago, reports CNN, and her granddaughter arranged to have the auctioneer Osenat sell it. The seller never laid eyes on the vase; as Jean-Pierre Osenat explains, she lives in an overseas French territory and arranged to have it shipped directly from her late grandmother's home in Brittany to Osenat, which valued the ordinary vase at no more than $2,000. It sold for 3,800 times that amount on Saturday: about $7.6 million.

The Guardian describes the auctioneers as "astonished" as 30 largely Chinese bidders engaged in a bidding war that drove the price sky-high. With seller's fees included, the buyer paid a hair over $9 million for the tianqiuping-style porcelain vase. Why? The Guardian's take is that the bidders believed it to be a rare 18th-century vase, but Osenat's view didn't sync with that one: It dated the vase to the 20th century and found it to be "quite ordinary," though it agreed that had it believed it was 200 years older, it would indeed be quite the find.

"Our expert still thinks it’s not old," an Osenat director notes, though Jean-Pierre Osenat has a different view. He tells CNN more than 300 people expressed interest in the vase. "The view of an expert can't outweigh that of 300 people," he said, adding that he now believes it does hail from the 18th century. The buy is the priciest the auction house has recorded; in 2007 it sold a sword Napoleon wielded at the Battle of Marengo for 4.2 million euros, or about $4.2 million in today's dollars, reports Artnet. (Read more vase stories.)

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