Is there a Chinese vase in your home?

Shutterstock.com/ Albina Bugarcheva

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If you are hoping to make a few million you may be considering the lottery or maybe the stock market. Perhaps you will go to the casino and try your hand at poker, or maybe you will simply invest in the latest cryptocurrency. While all of these ways are guaranteed to be a success there may be one better. Recently an auction house sold a Chinese vase for $9 million dollars. The vase had been sitting in a home with its value known for years. In the very house, there were numerous pets and the vase could have been broken at any time, luckily for the owner it survived.

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Chinese vases are a classic expensive item. The most sought after vases are those from Qianlong dynasty from the year 1735 to 1799. It was during these years that vase making was at its most intricate. The complexity of the vase that sold recently was so incredible that many felt it was among the greatest ever to emerge from China. The standout feature of the vase is that it is double-walled. The vase essentially has an outer vase protecting it. The secondary vase has ornate holes in it so you can see the second vase inside. Both are exceptionally made and the amount of expertise required to create such a piece must have been incredible. 

How the vase got out of China remains a mystery. Experts say that the color tones of the vase suggest that it was created after the Chinese first interacted with European culture as the choice of culture has been impacted. There are some that suggest the vase coloring means it may have even been made to be sold in a European market. Others say though that the exquisite nature of the vase means that it was likely destined for the Emperor’s palace in China and was likely in a palace in the Forbidden City for years. There was a period, after 1870 when the Opium Wars took place where security in the Forbidden City was relaxed and many robberies took place. Whatever way that it left China, it soon found it’s way to Britain. It was purchased in 1954 for 44 pounds. Although that sounds incredibly cheap that would have equated to over 1,500 USD today. Clearly, when the buyer (Harry Garner) purchased it, he knew it was something of value. 

Yet in 2020 it turned up in a home in Eastern Europe and had been there for many years. Again the owner felt that it was worth a good amount of money but had no idea of its actual worth. She got a valuation of all of her art one day and was surprised to find out that she may be sitting on a vase that was the greatest in Chinese history. 

The vase does not hold the record for highest value though. In 2010 a Qianlong vase from the mid 18th century sold for 43 million pounds. Following a similar story it was found in a home in the UK and it was not known how it really ended up there. The answer is pretty obvious and it is likely that someone stole it many years previously. Ignoring the fact that some underhanded behavior was clearly involved, the vase went to auction and earned a lot of money.

Before you spend some time in the casino or the stock market and before you waste your money on a lottery ticket, have a look around your home. Is there a vase that someone brought over that they don’t know where it came from? Has it got an intricate design? You could be in the presence of a fortune. Please don’t let your cat knock it over.