Rare Chinese Bowl Bought for $3, Sells for $2.2 Million

ABC News Blogs

$3 Tag Sale Bowl Sold for $2.2M at Auction

Now watching

Next video starts in : 7 Play

$3 Tag Sale Bowl Sold for $2.2M at Auction

$3 Tag Sale Bowl Sold for $2.2M at Auction
Replay video
Up next

Tourist finds himself looking down the barrel of a Queen’s Guard’s rifle

Tourist finds himself looking down the barrel of a Queen’s Guard’s rifle Up next

Tourist finds himself looking down the barrel of a Queen’s Guard’s rifle

ABC News' Josh Haskell and Katie Kindelan report:

London art dealer Giuseppe Eskenaz says his new bowl is “absolutely perfect. It doesn’t have a crack or a chip or any imperfection.”

Not bad for a bowl that not long ago was bought at a tag sale in New York state for $3.

In the tales of trash to treasure made famous by shows like “Antiques Roadshow” and the DIY decorating craze, the sale of this Chinese bowl at Sotheby’s may top them all.

On Tuesday it sold at the famed auction house  for $2.23 million, nearly eight times its estimated price.

The bowl,  from the Northern Song Dynasty, had sat on a shelf in the living room of the owner’s upstate New York home since 2007,  Sotheby’s confirmed to ABCNews.com.

READ MORE: Rare Australian Coin Fetches Record Price

When the family, who has remained anonymous, noticed the increased interest in Chinese art among collectors in recent years, it had the bowl appraised and realized its value, according to Sotheby’s

PHOTOS: Expensive Auction Items

“This piece arrived in a simple looking box and when the top was opened, my first impression was that I was looking at something very, very beautiful … something very special that will be exciting for potential collectors,” said Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby’s vice-chairman of Asian art in North America.

Howard-Sneyd says Sotheby’s tracked down the only other bowl like it in the world, which belongs to the British Museum in London, comparing the two and estimating its value.

The 1,000-year-old bowl, white with an ivory glaze and 5 inches in diameter, was the subject of a focused bidding war on Tuesday, among four bidders both in the room and on the telephone.

The buyer willing to fork over $2,225,000 was London art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi, who tells ABC News he was willing to go substantially higher and had been thinking about the bowl for six months.

Calling the bowl “absolutely perfect,” said Eskenazi, “the leaf flower carving inside and the leaf on the outside which are also carved, it’s very rare to get that combination.”

Eskenazi has been dealing Chinese art for over 30 years and said he’s not worried about finding a buyer for the bowl. He also said he’s never heard a story like this.

“You don’t really find things for three dollars which are worth a million, two million.”

READ MORE: Women Gets More Than Just Jeans at Goodwill

The bowl had a presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, the auction house said.

During day two of Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction in New York, the auctioneer recalled the reaction he got from the family who owned the bowl, when he told him how much it sold for.

“I got an e-mail that said in capital letters, WOW, and then wow again with a line of exclamation marks,” said Howard-Sneyd. “I can say they were very pleased.”

View Comments (461)

Recommended for You

  • Leap Second: How Companies Are Preparing For Extra Second Today

    If today feels a bit longer, there's a reason for it.A leap second will be added to the clock to account for a discrepancy between Earth's rotation and the atomic clock.While there have been more than two dozen instances of a leap second being added since 1972, companies relying on their computer…

    Good Morning America23 mins ago
  • San Diego Couple's Final Wish Fulfilled After 75 Years of Marriage

    Jeannette and Alexander Toczko spent their lives in love. "My dad carried around a picture of my mother in her Holy Communion outfit in his wallet," Aimee Toczko-Cushman told ABC affiliate KGTV in San Diego. Alexander joined the U.S. Navy.

    Good Morning America25 mins ago
  • 75-Year-Old Grandmother Survives 48 Hours in Texas Ravine After Car Crash

    Texas resident Wanda Mobley was driving to a family reunion in Oklahoma on Friday morning when her Chevrolet sedan sped off an embankment and landed in a ravine. Mobley survived the crash but was too injured to walk up the ravine on her own. "At first I kicked out the window to get out and walk,…

    Good Morning America25 mins ago
  • Evangeline Lilly Is Pregnant: Star Glows at 'Ant-Man' Premiere

    On Monday night, Evangeline Lilly showed up to the "Ant-Man" carpet and revealed she's expecting her second child.She also posted a couple pictures on Instagram, one rubbing her belly backstage at "Conan."Read: Why Evangeline Lilly Would Be Fine Never Acting AgainShe posted another on the actual…

    Good Morning America34 mins ago
  • What Nick Watt Learned By Traveling the World

    For years, Nick Watt has traveled the globe as a journalist for ABC News. But in his new Travel Channel series, "Watt's World," the TV producer and correspondent had the opportunity to explore places from a completely different perspective. In the new show, which premieres tonight with…

    Good Morning America
  • 12-Year-Old Boy, Born With 1 Arm, Excels on the Field

    Aidan Duncan is happiest when he’s playing sports on a field or court. It could have been because of his umbilical cord wrapping around his arm, they’re not quite sure,” his mother, Mona Mulvany, told “Good Morning America.” “They never did have an exact answer as to why this happened. A…

    Good Morning America
  • 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Complete Results

    5 Biggest Moments in US Soccer Team HistoryESPN: Complete Coverage of Canada 2015Group A:June 6Canada 1, China 0Netherlands 1, New Zealand 0June 11China 1, Netherlands 0Canada 0, New Zealand 0June 15Netherlands 1, Canada 1China 2, New Zealand 2Group B:June 7Norway 4, Thailand 0Germany 10, Ivory…

    Good Morning America
  • Dozens Dead in Medan, Indonesia After Military Plane Crashes in Residential Area

    An Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules crashed today into a residential neighborhood in Medan, the country’s third largest city, killing dozens of people, authorities said. The plane crashed into houses and buildings, including a hotel, located near the Soewondo Air Force Base, where the plane…

    Good Morning America
  • Improve This: Upgrade Your Backyard With 'Going Yard' Stars

    Chris and Peyton Lambton did not find love on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette" -- where they each appeared, respectively -- but they did eventually find each other.The coupled married in 2012 and are now the stars of their own home gardening show, “Going Yard,” on HGTV.The Lambtons appeared on…

    Good Morning America
  • Escaped Prisoners: How David Sweat and Richard Matt Survived 3 Weeks on the Run

    During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat's three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed. Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the…

    Good Morning America
  • How Police Caught Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat

    A three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners, called a "nightmare" by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came to a violent end this past weekend when one inmate was shot and killed Friday and another was shot and apprehended Sunday. Officials announced they had reason to believe Sweat and Matt, who…

    Good Morning America
  • Whitey Bulger Writes Contrite Letter to Teens, Says His Life Was 'Spent Foolishly'

    Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh and Michaela Arguin, now rising seniors at Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts, selected Bulger as the topic of their website for the National History Day competition earlier this year. A few teachers recommended they look at a local…

    Good Morning America
  • Father Describes How He and His Family Escaped a Plane Crashing Into Their Home

    A father's quick thinking helped save his wife and two children when a plane hit their Massachusetts home.Aaron Rice and his family survived the Sunday evening crash that killed all three on board when it hit the Rice family's home in Plainville, near the Rhode Island border."My wife and my boys…

    Good Morning America
  • Adorable Kid Helps Dad Pop the Question

    This cutie pie managed to help his dad pop the question without ever saying a word during a family photo shoot. Adam Blum decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the pre-planned shoot to pop the question to the 13-month-old boy's mom and his fiance, Hannah Roach, of Cape Girardeau,…

    Good Morning America
  • Michael Douglas Loves Wife Catherine Zeta-Jones 'More Than Ever'

    Michael Douglas says he and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are doing better than ever following their public separation in 2013. The 70-year-old "Ant-Man" star opened up in a new interview about his relationship with his wife, their two children and his life after cancer. "It feels like a rebirth…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Flush Is the Water Slide of Your Dreams and Nightmares

    The Royal Flush may have just won summer.Since a video of the new attraction was posted to YouTube earlier this month by ROUND III Media, it's been viewed more than 11 million times. Scroll down to see the video.Now, to be fair, the video does open with bikini-clad girls inexplicably carrying a…

    Good Morning America
  • 'The Bachelorette' Kaitlyn Bristowe Admits It's 'Tough' Dating Multiple Men

    As the star of "The Bachelorette," Kaitlyn Bristowe was romantically involved with several men. Juggling those relationships wasn't always easy, especially when some of the men, namely Shawn B., expressed that they were having a hard time dealing with feelings of jealousy.

    Good Morning America