A 51-year-old UK man is £468,000 (AU$849,562) richer, after saving a tiny yellow teapot from going to charity.
During lockdown, the owner, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was clearing out his garage when he stumbled upon the oriental teapot.
He said his mother used to display it in a cabinet, but after she died, it had been kept in a box for the last decade in a loft, and then a relative’s garage.
“Lockdown came along and I finally had time to go through the boxes in the garage,” the semi-retired owner said.
“I admit, we’d been thinking of sending everything to a charity shop...I’d always thought the teapot, which is what I’ve always called it, was special.”
He said he had seen similar pots online, and took it to an auctioneer to value it. He then found out it was a 250-year-old Chinese wine ewer, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor from 1735 to 1796.
According to the auctioneer, it could have been used by the Emperor himself.
“He [the Emperor] was fascinated by European enamel and the new method of enamel painting and the style was replicated in his imperial workshops,” auctioneer Charles Hanson said.
“During Emperor Qianlong’s reign this art form reached heady heights of perfection with designs reflecting the emperor's extravagant taste.”
Hanson said this was the “best lockdown find ever”.
“It is such an exciting discovery, an imperial 18th century wine ewer which would have graced a palace in China and was, perhaps, handled by Emperor Qianlong, considered by some to be the greatest Chinese Emperor.”
The teapot is one of just four of its kind, with two located in Beijing and one in Taiwan. This one was sold to an anonymous bidder in China.
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