£100 lost treasure of the Ming dynasty sells for £751,000

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For aficionados of Antiques Roadshow and junk shops, it is the ultimate fantasy; buying a dusty jar for £100 only to find it is worth more. Some 7,515 per cent more.

For aficionados of Antiques Roadshow and junk shops, it is the ultimate fantasy; buying a dusty jar for £100 only to find it is worth more. Some 7,515 per cent more.

After a furious seven-minute bidding battle at Sotheby's London auction house yesterday, that dream was realised when a 15th-century Chinese pot made for an emperor was sold to an art trader for more than £750,000. The Ming dynasty vessel, decorated with red and yellow elephants dancing in waves, was found in the Eighties in a small Dublin junk shop by an avid amateur porcelain collector.

This year the collector died and his son put the collection up for sale. The man, who insisted on anonymity, said last night: "I was there when my father spotted the jar on a shelf at the back of a small shop which sold mostly European ceramics and objets d'art. After purchasing and handling it, he knew straight away it was a Ming piece. I am delighted to have his hunch finally confirmed. But I certainly didn't expect it to reach such a staggering price."

The jar or doucai dates from the Chenghua period of 1465 to 1487, during which time objects were frequently destroyed if they did not reach the exacting standards of the imperial palace.

Only 12 other examples from the era, decorated with the Chinese character Tian or Heave, remain in existence and all belong to museums.

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