Garage sale find scores seller $925k
A 15cm Chinese porcelain bowl bought for $US35 ($A45) at a Connecticut yard sale was sold at auction on Wednesday for a staggering $US721,800 ($A925,000), which includes a buyer's premium.
It was expected to fetch between $US300,000 ($A385,000) and $US500,000 ($A641,000) at Sotheby's on the Upper East Side. The hammer price, which does not include the buyer's premium and overhead premium, was $US580,000 ($A743,000).
The name of the winning bidder in the Sotheby's Auction of Important Chinese Art auction is private.
The Ming Dynasty-era bowl - one of only seven such items to exist in the world - was made in the shape of a lotus bud or chicken heart and dates back to the Yongle emperor in the 15th century.
#AuctionUpdate: The discovery of a lifetime: moments ago in our NY salesroom, a Ming dynasty, Yongle period exceptional & rare blue and white 'floral' bowl, originally purchased for $35 at a Connecticut yard sale last year, reached $721,800 - surpassing its $500,000 high estimate pic.twitter.com/nxBl2VLYQU— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) March 17, 2021
An unnamed antiques enthusiast spotted the rare artefact, adorned with cobalt blue paintings of flowers and other designs, at a yard sale in the New Haven area last year.
Realising there might be more than met the eye, the person shelled out $US35 ($A45) for the blockbuster bowl and later emailed information and photos to Sotheby's asking for an evaluation.
Angela McAteer and Hang Yin, the auction house's experts on Chinese ceramics and art, said they quickly realised that there was something remarkable about the little bowl.
"It was immediately apparent to both of us that we were looking at something really very, very special," said Ms McAteer, Sotheby's senior vice president and head of its Chinese Works of Art Department.
"The style of painting, the shape of the bowl, even just the colour of the blue is quite characteristic of that early, early 15th-century period of porcelain," she said, adding that it was made for the Yongle court.
"The Yongle court (1403-1424) brought a very distinctive new style to the porcelain kilns of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi, a style immediately recognisable, never surpassed, and defining the craft still in the eighteenth century," said a description of the product on the auction website.
"In every respect, this delicate bowl is a quintessential Yongle product, made for the court, showing the striking combination of superb material and painting with a slightly exotic design that characterises imperial porcelain of this period."
The specialists confirmed it was from the 1400s when they looked at it in person. It was smooth to the touch, had a silky glaze and the colour and designs are distinctive of that period.
Most of the six other bowls like this one are in museums - from London to Taipei, Taiwan, to Tehran, Iran, according to Sotheby's. None are in the US.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Garage sale find scores seller $925k