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Rare Chinese Artifact Found at Yard Sale Fetches Over $700,000 at Auction

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An exceptionally rare 15th-century porcelain bowl made in China that somehow turned up at a Connecticut yard sale and sold for just $35 was auctioned off Wednesday for nearly $722,000.

The small white bowl adorned with cobalt blue paintings of flowers and other designs — one of only seven such bowls known to exist in the world — was among a variety of Chinese artworks sold by Sotheby’s.

The names of the seller and buyer were not disclosed.

Sotheby’s had estimated the value of the artifact at $300,000 to $500,000.

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Wednesday’s auction included 15 bids, starting at $200,000 and ending at $580,000. The official purchase price, which included various fees, was $721,800.

An antiques enthusiast came across the Ming Dynasty-era piece and thought it could be something special when browsing a yard sale in the New Haven area last year, according to Sotheby’s.

The buyer later emailed information and photos to Sotheby’s asking for an evaluation.

“Today’s result for this exceptionally rare floral bowl, dating to the 15th century, epitomizes the incredible, once in a lifetime discovery stories that we dream about as specialists in the Chinese Art field,” Angela McAteer, head of Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art Department, said in a statement.

Sotheby’s confirmed it was authentic when their specialists were able to look at it in person.

The bowl is very smooth to the touch, its glaze is silky and its color and designs are distinctive of the period.

The artifact dates back to the early 1400s during the reign of the third ruler of the Ming Dynasty.

It was made in the shape of a lotus bud or chicken heart. Inside, it is decorated with a medallion at the bottom and a quatrefoil motif surrounded by flowers. The outside includes four blossoms of lotus, peony, chrysanthemum and pomegranate flower.

McAteer said only six other such bowls are known to exist, and most of them are in museums. No others are in the United States.

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There are two at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, two at museums in London and one in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, according to Sotheby’s.

How the bowl ended up at a Connecticut yard sale remains a mystery.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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