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Chinese vase valued at €2,000 sells for €9m at French auction

The vase is of the Chinese ‘Tianqiuping’ style, and was inherited by a woman from her late mother — but experts have said the story is ‘crazy’ 

The winning bid was €7.7million by a Chinese buyer, meaning that with costs, the final total was €9.121million Pic: Maison Osenat

A Chinese vase that was valued at €2,000 has been sold for more than €9million at auction in France.

Auction house Osenat confirmed the sale on October 1 after the auction in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne). 

Osenat director, Cédric Laborde, said that the owner (who lives in a French overseas territory) was left the vase by her mother, after the latter died. It was part of a collection of possessions left in her apartment in Saint-Briauc-sur-Mer (Brittany).

The owner was not even present at the auction; she had had the vase transported to Paris.

“It’s a crazy story,” said auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat.

The vase is a Tianqiuping porcelain creation in blue and white, with polychrome enamel. The term ‘Tianqiuping’ translates as ‘celestial sphere vase’,  and relates to the traditional shape of the vase (large and spherical at the bottom, with a fluted neck).

It is 54cm high and 40cm in diameter, and features drawings of dragons and clouds. 

Experts had initially valued it at €1,500 to €2,000, but it went for a bid of €7.7million, meaning that with costs, the final total was €9.121million.

The main mystery of the vase is whether it dates from the 20th century or the 18th. 

If it dates from the 20th century (as experts said it does), then it is relatively common. However, if it is found to date to the 18th century, then it is much rarer. The latter date would justify the high auction price.

Experts at the auction house said: “As soon as the catalogue was made public, we saw that things were moving fast. More and more Chinese [would-be-buyers] were coming to see the vase.”

Mr Laborde said that the final buyer was Chinese. He said: “I don’t think this vase will be hidden from view [in a private collection], but will be displayed in a museum.”

However, Osenat still maintains that the vase is not from the 18th century.

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