A Chinese vase which collectors thought had slipped from their grasp may be back on the market sooner than expected.
An 18th century Qianlong vase found during a house clearance broke the world record price for Chinese art when it sold at London's Bainbridge auction house for £53.1m in November, more than double its estimate.
The sale of the vase, believed to have been produced at the Imperial Kilns in around 1740, set the art world aflame.
But a new twist to this fascinating tale has emerged with the discovery that the vase has not yet been paid for, with the suggestion that the vase may be reauctioned or offered to the next highest bidder.
The prospective buyer's identity has never been revealed although it is thought he is a Chinese industrialist.
The sale remains an example of how relatively low cost items can make it big if the conditions are right at auction, in addition to the continued popularity for Chinese art among collectors. Just last week a Chinese bowl found in an Isle of Man attic sold for £0.5m, ten times its estimate.
It isn't the first time an item belonging to Emperor Qianlong has emerged unexpectedly.
In 2009, a collection of Qianlong jade items emerged on the US Antiques Roadshow. The pieces, bought by a soldier stationed in China during the 1930s, were priced at $1.07m, breaking the show's valuation record.
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