A Chinese vase has sold for 450 times its guide price after auctioneers mistook it for a copy until eagle-eyed bidders realised it was actually a 500-year-old valuable antique.
The intricately-painted porcelain wucai fish vase broke house records for Birmingham auctioneers Fellows when it sold for £810,000, despite bidding beginning at £1,000.
It had been priced by the auction house at just £1,800, after examinations suggested that it did not have the sophistication of an original piece.
But a range of bidders had spotted that it was actually made during the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Chinese Ming dynasty who ruled from 1521 to 1567.
Fierce competition between bidders at the sale in the city’s Jewellery Quarter on Monday morning saw the price rocket up.
Bidders inside and outside of the salesroom took part, with telephone and online bids from competitors in the Far East. One bidder had made the trip from Japan in person.
Fellows Senior specialist, Mark Huddleston said: “Two buyers in the room battled each other strongly before, at around the £600,000 mark, the final telephone left standing sparked into life. There was a lot of interest through the online bidding platforms as well.
“Finally at £800,000 the final bidder in the room admitted defeat, and with the next bid the telephone bidder, via his translator, secured the lot – to a round of applause for the auctioneer and Managing Director, Stephen Whittaker.”
Fellows claim their low price originally came from the seller but they were also dubious that it was the real deal.