How about this bargain hunt? A small bowl bought for $ 35 at a farm sale in the United States turned out to be a rare 15th-century Chinese artifact that might be worth $ 500,000.
The porcelain bowl – with delicate floral motifs – was acquired by a buyer, whose identity is kept secret, in the northeastern part of Connecticut.
The buyer had the item valued by ceramic experts at Sotheby’s, first by sending photos, then by taking it to the auction house for a closer look.
Experts said it was painted before the court of Emperor Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, who ruled from 1402 to 1424.
“There are only six (other) such bowls known in the world. It is a very exclusive group,” Angela McAteer, director of Chinese art at Sotheby’s in New York, told AFP.
Sotheby’s will put the newly discovered seventh bowl up for auction on March 17, when it is expected to sell for between $ 300,000 and $ 500,000.
Five of the bowls are in museums: two in Taiwan, two in London and one in Tehran.
The sixth was last seen on the market in 2007, says McAteer, which means that interest in the auction from private collectors and institutions is likely to be high.
Many Chinese works of art entered collections in the West in the 19th century before being passed down through generations.
But McAteer says it is unlikely that experts will ever know exactly how the dish came from China for junk sales.