Experts stood aghast as two Chinese agate carvings - one of a boy holding a puppy and the other a boy holding a drum - brought £180,000 ($270,707) to UK auctioneers Woolley and Wallis on May 23.
Having been estimated at a mere £300 ($450), the pair sold to an anonymous online bidder with an 89,900% increase.
The hotly contested lot saw bids rise from three to four figure sums in quick succession.
Woolley and Wallis remains baffled as to why the figurines brought such a substantial sum, though onlookers have suggested that the subject - boys - is rare among carvings of this type.
London-based Oriental art expert John Berwald told the Daily Mail newspaper: "It's a hell of a price… if two people want an item badly enough and are happy to pay whatever it takes, then you can get these hugely inflated prices."
International interest in Asian collectibles has soared of late. A set of four hanging scrolls by Chinese master Zhang Daqain sold for $10.4m on May 27.
As Antique and Collecting magazine reports: "Vendors in this country receive pleasant shocks when artefacts that have lain unappreciated since Great Uncle George brought them back from a sojourn Out East suddenly become examples of things the Chinese avidly wish to reacquire."
Berwald told the Daily Mail: "Chinese agate carvings date back to the 17th century.
"One can only assume that these pieces are much earlier in date".
For more information on investing in art, see Paul Fraser Collectibles' free guide to investing in art and photography.
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