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Update: That Time Lost Treasure of Imperial China Was Found in a French Attic

An exceptionally rare porcelain vase brought to Sotheby’s in a shoebox sets a record.

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The rare 18th century Imperial ‘Yangcai’ Famille-Rose porcelain vase was offered at Sotheby’s Paris today 12, June and achieved the highest price in Sotheby’s France history. The vase sold for €16.2m after 20 minutes in a packed salesroom with 20 international bidders on the phone.

This is a public service announcement to check your attics.

That Time Lost Treasure of Imperial China Was Found in a French Attic

A Magnificent Imperial 'Yangcai Crane and Deer Ruyi Vase'

A Magnificent Imperial ‘Yangcai Crane and Deer Ruyi Vase’

The extraordinary discovery of a porcelain vase, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) was made by a French family in the attic of their family home. Left to the grandparents of the present owners by an uncle, the vase is listed among the contents of the uncle’s Paris apartment after his death in 1947. Although the vase was recorded alongside several other antique Chinese and Japanese valuables, including a mirror that will be also sold at Sotheby’s, the extraordinary importance and rarity of the vase was only known after Sotheby’s specialist Olivier Valmier opened the shoe box in which the vase was brought to Sotheby’s Paris.

The vase was produced by the finest craftsmen of the time for the Qianlong Emperor and will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s, Paris on 12 June. It is estimated that the vase will go under the hammer for £430,000- 610,000.

Crane and Deer Detail

Crane and Deer Detail

The vase is the only known example of its kind. Famille Rose porcelains of the period (or ‘yangcai’ porcelains, as they are known) are extremely rare on the market- most examples currently are housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and other museums around the world. Pieces of this kind are subject to fierce competition, however, if they ever do come to auction. Such was the case earlier in the year for The Chinese Ceramic That Broke the Internet: a small, pink bowl that sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for £21.7 million.

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