This “Ordinary” Vase Was Appraised At $3,000… It Just Sold For Over $12 Million
— 13 October 2022

This “Ordinary” Vase Was Appraised At $3,000… It Just Sold For Over $12 Million

— 13 October 2022
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Having a rough week? Take solace in the fact you’re not the art expert who was recently fired for wrongfully appraising a Chinese tianqiuping vase at €2,000 ($3,000), only to watch it auction for over €7.7 million ($12.25 million).

According to The Guardian, this entire saga began earlier this year when a French woman living abroad decided to sell furniture and various objects from her late mother’s home in Brittany. One of which was the Chinese tianqiuping vase in question (“tianqiuping” meaning “heavenly globe”).

Entrusting the hot ticket item to the auction house Osenat, an estimated price between €1,500 and €2,000 was set after the now-unemployed art expert mistook it for an “ordinary” 20th-century decorative piece, and not the rare artefact it was.

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Of course, there were suspicions the initial assessment was inaccurate when the catalogue went online and the pre-auction exhibition attracted 400 interested buyers more than two weeks before it actually went under the hammer.

“They came with lamps and magnifying glasses to look at it. Obviously they saw something,” said Jean-Pierre Osenat himself.

“There were so many registrations [to take part in the auction online] we had to stop them. At that point we understood something was happening.”

At this point, however, Osenat simply chalked it up to the French-Chinese community’s passion for China’s art and history. The only safeguard they implemented was to prohibit online bids, limiting the buyers to 30. Each party was required to pay a €10,000 ($15,000) deposit beforehand.

As you can imagine, what occurred next was nothing short of a proper frenzy. By the time bids crossed the €5 million threshold, there were still 10 parties competing. By the time bids crossed the €7 million threshold, only two remained.

"Ordinary" Chinese Tianqiuping Vase Appraised At $3,000 Sells For $12 Million

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“The vase had been in her family for generations,” Osenat, the man, said of the Chinese tianqiuping vase’s former owner.

“She said they used to put flowers in it. She had lived with it for 30 years and never imagined it was worth that much.”

“She’s completely unsettled. If it had sold for €150,000 that would have been something, but €7.7 million is something else. She’s terrified of being in the press and quite traumatised by it.”

Jean-Pierre Osenat added: “The expert made a mistake. One person alone against 300 interested Chinese buyers cannot be right… He no longer works for us. It was, after all, a serious mistake.”

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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