In a week that has seen quite a few huge sales in contemporary art, an 18th century Chinese porcelain vase managed to still stun the world. The vase, which was discovered when a house was cleared out was sold for £43 million ($69.3 million) at Bainbridges Auctions (£53.1m after commission which pushes the total to over $85 million). The vase was only estimated to sell for £1.2 million but fierce bidding among Chinese would-be buyers drove up the price. The vase sold to a Chinese bidder who turned up to bid on behalf of an undisclosed buyer.
Bainbridges, the auction house in the London suburb of Ruislip, knew they had something special on their hands but no one expected the piece to sell for quite this much money. It is believed to be the most expensive piece of Chinese art ever sold. In a blog post before the auction, Bainbridges said that the vase was "what must be one of the most important Chinese vases to be offered for sale this century." They speculated that the delicate vase with the fish motif would have spent time in the Chinese Royal Palace and was likely fired in the Imperial kilns. One of the things that makes this vase so amazing is that it has a reticulated double walled construction. There is an inner vase that can be viewed through the perforations of the main body. It is of the Qianlong period, circa 1740s and decorated with four cartouches each showcasing different styles of fish at play on stylized water backgrounds. It has a delicately painted yellow trumpet neck and vase set off from the central decoration by orange bands.