It Could Happen To You: A Bowl Bought for Less Than $3.00 Sells at Sotheby’s for Over $2 Million
By Harold Yeo
As the bidding for lot 94 progressed, a hushed silence fell over the saleroom. Although it was packed with over 200 people, the only sound was coming from the auctioneer, Henry Howard-Sneyd, and the phone bidders. Eventually, the tension was broken by applause, as the Rare and Important ‘Ding’ Bowl, dating to the Northern Song dynasty, brought in $2.23 million against its estimate of $200,000-300,000, selling to legendary London dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi.
The consignors paid less than $3.00 for the bowl in a tag sale, near their home in New York State in 2007. Yes, $3.00. I’m not a finance guy, but that must be the best return on a $3.00 investment ever. When it was bought, the consignors had no idea that what they had picked up was no ordinary bowl. It was displayed in the living room of the family’s home for several years, until they suspected that it might have some value and contacted Sotheby’s.
Harold Yeo is a Specialist in the Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department in New York. He has been in the auction business for over 15 years.