Rare works of art have been on the minds of wealthy investors throughout 2010, but perhaps no story is quite as fanciful as this one.
A mother and son, from Pinner in Middlesex, stumbled on the find of a lifetime recently while clearing out the attic of the mother's deceased parents.
Within the attic they discovered a lavish Chinese vase dating back to the 18th century Qiuanlong-dynasty. The vase is elaborately decorated and believing that it was worth about £800 the mystery finders, who are thought to be in hiding, took it to a local auction house in Ruislip.
Upon receiving the vase the auction house, Bainbridges, became quite excited. Referencing the archives of London's Victoria and Albert Museum they realised that the vase may be of great interest to collectors, especially as Chinese art is highly sought after in today's market.
Bainbridges then put the vase on their website, claiming: “the vase, once, in the 18th century, would have resided no doubt in the Chinese Royal Palace and was most certainly fired in the Imperial kilns. It is a piece of exquisite beauty and a supreme example of the skill of the ceramicist and decorator”.
Despite the fervour surrounding the vase nobody predicted the remarkable events that followed.
Come the auction a frenzied bidding battle commenced, for half an hour the price was jumping up by £1 million a bid, until finally the final bid was made at £43 million and the auctioneer reportedly slammed his hammer down so hard it smashed into smithereens.
The buyer is believed to be an immensely wealthy Chinese industrialist art collector who himself recently lost an auction for a similar vase. This time round he was determined to get his victory, no matter the cost.
This story will no doubt lead to a flood of people rummaging through attics and lofts for hidden treasures. If you think you may have a valuable piece then contact an auction house, like Sotheby's or Christies, and they will be happy to value your item free of charge.