pounds 870,000 Medici vase is a rare bargain

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The Independent Online
THE RAREST piece of porcelain in the world, a Medici vase dated around 1575, was sold in Paris on Friday for FFr6,430,000 (pounds 870,000). It was a "rock-bottom, bargain-basement price", according to Errol Manners, the Kensington porcelain dealer. The auctioneer, Marc Ferri, had been hoping for FFr10-12m.

The successful bidder wasLondon dealer Jules Speelman, acting on behalf of an unnamed European collector.

The soft-paste porcelain made in Florence under the patronage of Francesco Maria De'Medici is the first European porcelain to have survived. About 62 pieces are known and all but three are decorated in blue and white. The vase sold in Paris is the finest of the three coloured pieces.

The Medici soft paste was the first to be accorded the title "porcelain". It was made from sand, glass, powdered rock crystal, white earth and clay.

The Ferri sale was the last of three dispersals from a magnificent porcelain collection formed between the Wars by the French industrialist, Alfred Wenz. Allcontained Medici porcelain. A sale last December had a small and damaged blue-and-white plate which sold for FFr997,000. In May last year, a large blue-and-white dish sold for FFr9,635,600.