x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

$3 bowl was a hidden treasure

A rare Chinese bowl bought at a garage sale for US$3 has sold at a New York City auction for more than US$2.2 million.

There are, you could say, two kinds of people in the world - those who keep stuff, and those who get rid of stuff. (Sociologists and psychologists have yet to explain why so many married couples seem to contain one individual from each side of this divide, but that does often seem to be the case.)

This week the keepers got a nice bit of encouragement from the US: a bowl that had been purchased for $3 (Dh11) at a 2007 neighbourhood jumble sale, in New York state, has just been resold, at auction, for $2.25 million. The buyer is a New York art dealer.

The piece turned out to be about 1,000 years old, an example of the skilled workmanship for which China's Northern Song dynasty is known. The only closely comparable bowl is in the British Museum.

The person or persons who sold the piece for $3, six years ago - the kind of people, evidently, who get rid of stuff - have not been heard from this week. Nor, for that matter, have the $3 buyers. Perhaps they're still in shock, or perhaps they're busy counting their money.

We rather suspect that they're out prowling around more jumble sales. With a $2.25 million bankroll, they have a chance to acquire an awful lot more stuff to keep - until the price is right.