A rare 18th century Chinese vase that went under the hammer for £43m in 2010 – only for the buyer to renege on the deal – has finally been sold, for £20 – 25m.
In November 2010, a rare 18th century Qianlong vase made world headlines when it was sold for £52.6m, including buyer’s premium. The story was all the more remarkable because the vase – estimated at a value of up to £1.2m – was sold by a provincial saleroom more used to dealing in antique dining tables and Victorian oak pedestal desks than priceless Imperial artworks.
However, things then went sour. The Chinese businessman who placed the winning bid objected to the buyers’ fee of 20%, which added £8.6m to the hammer price, and refused to pay up. Months of legal wrangling followed, the vase remaining in a Chinese vault with neither the vendor nor the auctioneer seeing a penny of profit.
A new buyer – again from the Far East – approached Bonham’s in Hong Kong. A spokesman from Antiques Trade Gazette said:
“From what I can gather Peter Bainbridge [the original auctioneer] has been compensated.
“It must have been a significant amount of money for him to release the vase to Bonhams.
“The price of between £20 million to £25 million is […] fair. The vendor would have walked away with a good chunk of that and Bonhams would have got a decent fee out of it as well.”
In Lancashire, even an antique mahogany pedestal desk incurs a premium at auction. With antique dealers, the price paid is the one displayed.
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