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Chinese vase sells for record-breaking $68M

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
  • Qing dynasty Chinese vase sells for £43 million ($68 million)
  • Ceramic vase was found by mother and son during house clearout
  • It is thought to be the highest price ever paid for any Chinese artwork
  • China
  • Auctions

London, England (CNN) -- A Chinese vase found during a house clearout in London has sold at auction for what is believed to be a world record £43 million ($68 million).

The elaborately decorated 16 inch (40 cm) ceramic vase, which dates from the mid-18th century Qianlong period, was bought by a private buyer from mainland China on Thursday in Bainbridges, a small west London-based auction house.

After the addition of the 20 percent fees on its hammer price the final bill for the buyer was £53,105,000 ($85,176,578).

It is thought to be the highest price ever paid for any Chinese artwork say Bainbridges, who auctioned the vase on behalf of a mother and son, according to CNN sources.

The pair, who want to remain anonymous, were clearing out a house in Pinner, a leafy suburb of north-west London, when they came across the dusty vase on a shelf.

They had no idea what it was says Helen Porter, a researcher at Bainbridges.

Luan Grocholski, a Bainbridges' valuer and specialist in oriental antiquities, told CNN: "When I saw it for the first time I thought it was a wonderful piece, I wasn't sure if it was real. But, after some research and examination we decided that it was real.

"It is indeed a world record in ceramics, definitely the most expensive piece of oriental art sold at auction", he added

Porter said: "They were hopeful but they didn't dare believe until the hammer went down. When it did, the sister had to go out of the room and have a breath of fresh air."

The vase was believed to have been acquired by an English family during the 1930s although how it came to reside on a shelf in Pinner is not known says Porter.

The vase was made in the mid to late-18th century during the reign of the fourth emperor in the Qing dynasty, Qianlong. It would have resided in the Chinese Royal Palace and was almost certainly fired in the imperial kilns, say Bainbridges.

The vase is reticulated and double-walled -- there is an inner vase that can be viewed through the perforations of the main body.

Peter Bainbridge, the owner Bainbridges, said "It helps balance the books rather more easily but it also means jolly good bonuses for the staff".

CNN's Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.