Ordinary Chinese vase worth £2k makes £8m in auction frenzy

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Potential buyers believe it is a rare 18th century artefact. Auctioneers were astonished as offers from around 30 bidders – predominantly Chinese – flooded in, despite experts insisting it is a standard 20th century piece.

When the hammer fell, the vase made £6.7million – almost 4,000 times its estimate. With the seller’s fees, the final purchase price was £7,928,928.

The tianqiuping-style porcelain was put in the auction at Fontainebleau near Paris by an unnamed woman living in a French overseas territory who was left it by her late mother.

The seller had not even seen the 21-inch vase, but arranged for it to be taken from her mum’s home in Brittany.

Auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat called the story “crazy”. He said: “The seller inherited it from her mother who in turn inherited it from her mother who was a big Paris collector in the last century.”

Tianqiuping means “heavenly sphere” and denotes the shape of the vase, which is covered in enamel and decorated with dragons and clouds.

The auction house said it was from the 20th century and “quite ordinary”. Director Cédric Laborde, said: “Our expert still thinks it’s not old.

“From the moment the catalogue was published we saw there was enormous interest. The Chinese are passionate about their history.”

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