Old shoe box gives up rich secret

Central Station | 13 Jun 2018

An 18th-century Chinese vase forgotten for decades in a French attic sold for 16.2 million euros (HK$149.9 million) at Sotheby's in Paris yesterday.

Some experts said the vase, decorated with deer and cranes and made for Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong, was worth a much more modest 500,000 euros.

"But this is a major work of art - as if we had discovered a Caravaggio," said Olivier Valmier, an Asian arts expert at the auction house. The vase, in perfect condition, "is the only known example bearing such detail."

Rare porcelain from the Qianlong period has been going for astronomical prices recently, with a bowl sold for US$30.4 million (HK$236 million) by Sotheby's in Hong Kong in April.

The vase, newly discovered this year, was acquired by a French family at the end of the 19th century. But it had long lain unloved in a shoe box in the attic of the family home.

"We didn't like the vase too much, and my grandparents didn't like it either," said the owner. It was still in the shoe box when handed to experts for authentification in March.

It was bought by a young Chinese collector.

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