One man’s trash is another man’s rare Chinese artifact.
According to Associated Press, a small porcelain bowl that was picked up by an unknown buyer at a Connecticut yard sale for $35 turned out to be a vestige from 15th century China. The ancient piece has been deemed “exceptional and rare” by Sotheby’s and will be up for auction in New York on March 17.
Sotheby’s estimates that the Ming Dynasty piece is worth between $300,000 and $500,000 USD. The piece is believed to have been made for the Yongle court, a period of time in which Sotheby’s says the Ming Dynasty “came into its own.”
“This bowl shows a distinct Middle Eastern touch even in its floral designs, which seem formalized rather than fitting in with the rules of depiction Chinese artists usually observed,” Sotheby’s writes in its description of the object. “In the composite flower scrolls so characteristic of the Yongle period, the species generally are clearly identifiable since every bloom, or pair of blooms, is distinctive and shown with matching buds, fruits and leaves.”
Angela McAteer, Sotheby’s senior vice president and head of its Chinese Works of Art Department, told AP on Tuesday that only six other bowls like this one are known to exist. She said it was possible that the artifact ended up in Connecticut after being passed down through generations of people who did not realize its value.
The upscale auction house has acquired a number of rare items over the years, including the world’s largest purple-pink diamond named “The Spirit of the Rose,” which sold for $26.6 million USD in November.