A $3 Bowl Sells For $2.22 Million In New York Auction

on March 20 2013 8:41 AM
Chinese Bowl
A bowl picked up for $3 sold for $2.2 million at a Sotheby's auction. Sotheby's

A $3 bowl picked up at a tag sale turned out to be a very rare, and very valuable, 1,000-year-old Chinese Bowl. At a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, the Chinese bowl was sold for $2.22 million, well above initial estimates.

The Chinese bowl was sold during the first day of Sotheby’s fine Chinese ceramics and art works auction, reports the Associated Press.  The bowl is white and described as a Ding bowl from the Northern Song Dynasty. The presale estimates had the bowl valued at $200,000 to $300,000, which would have still been an impressive return on a $3 investment.

The bowl is described by Sotheby’s as a “finely potted body of slightly rounded and steep flared form rising from a short spreading foot to an upright rim, deftly carved to the interior with scrolling leafy lotus sprays, the exterior carved and molded with three rows of overlapping upright leaves, applied overall with an even ivory-colored glaze with characteristic teardrops at the base, the rim of the bowl and the footrim left unglazed showing the fine compact body beneath.” Ding pottery is among the most sought-after wares and highly prized for the thin sculpting and incredibly light weight.

The bowl sold at Sotheby’s auction is just five inches in diameter, and its craft, including the shape and construction, made it unusual for Ding wares, which resulted in the $2.22 million sale. The person who bought the bowl for $3 had displayed the bowl in his living room before having it appraised and discovering it was a valuable, and historic, object.

The Ding bowl’s price tag was the highest among items sold at the Sotheby’s auction. A similar Ding bowl, larger in size, sold for $545,000, beating the estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. A smaller Ding bowl sold for $32,500, again beating initial estimates. A “Massive Polychromed Carved Wood Head of Bodhisattva,” over three feet in height, from the Song/Jin dynasty sold for $509,000.

Finds like the Chinese bowl have fueled the popularity of shows such as “Antiques Roadshow,” “Pawn Stars” and “Storage Wars,” as people try to find treasure in their garage, old storage units or family heirlooms.