Rare 15th Century Bowl Sold At Yard Sale For $35 Fetches Over $700,000 At Auction


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An exceptional and rare 15th Chinese bowl that was purchased for $35 at a Connecticut yard sale has fetched $721,800 at auction, numerous sources reported.

A man found the blue and white floral bowl in New Haven in 2020. Angela McAteer, the head of Sotheby’s, which auctioned off the antique, said the man who discovered it “didn’t haggle over the $35 asking price,” according to CNN.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 11: A rare white ‘Floral’ Bowl from the Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period is seen on display at Sotheby’s on March 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

After making the purchase, the man sent photos of the bowl to auction specialists to help identify its significance. Sotheby’s confirmed the bowl was from the 1400s after looking at it in person and feeling the smooth and silky texture distinctive of its design period, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Experts determined it was a “lotus bowl,” named after its resemblance to a lotus bud, and originated from the Yongle court in the Ming Dynasty. Inside, the bowl is decorated with a medallion, and the exterior is painted with lotus, peony, chrysanthemum and pomegranate flowers, according to Sotheby’s. (RELATED: Bowl Purchased For $35 At Connecticut)

“In every respect, this delicate bowl is a quintessential Yongle product, made for the court, showing the striking combination of superb material and painting with a slightly exotic design that characterizes imperial porcelain of this period.”

The bowl in particular had an “incredibly smooth porcelain body” and a “really unctuous silky glaze,” McAteer said, according to CNN. The design “was never replicated in future reigns or dynasties.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 11: A rare white ‘Floral’ Bowl from the Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period is seen on display at Sotheby’s on March 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Sotheby’s had initially estimated the bowl’s value at $300,000 to $500,000. After 15 bids, the official purchase price was $721,800, which includes a number of fees, the AP reported. McAteer said it’s unclear how the bowl ended up at a yard sale in the U.S., and that it’s possible it was passed down within a family who did not know the artifact’s value. 

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