He's handsome, Chinese... and 20½ inches tall. This Chinese gilt-bronze seated Buddha statue emerged as the $143,000 star at an auction held by Alderfer Auction & Appraisal, says a recent end-of-year report released by the company.
The Buddha is thought to have been made in the late 19th or early 20th century. It appeared alongside nearly 250 items and auctioned with a pre-sale estimate of just $3,000-$5,000.
According to Alderfer's report, it was a bidding war between a Chinese gentleman in the United States and Chinese phone bidders in mainland China which pushed this piece's value up to nearly 29-times its predicted value.
Alderfer was ready for the interest from the People's Republic. The firm installed a bank of eight phones dedicated to bids from Asia, and even enlisted the help of a Chinese student from Philadelphia to translate the calls.
"There's no doubt that Asian antiques are hot right now, and a lot of that has to do with China's emerging wealthy class," said Matt Wilcox of Alderfer Auction & Appraisal.
"We had an idea the Buddha was something special, and the final price confirmed that. I think its large size was a factor, plus it was fresh to the market, in original condition, and had sufficient age."
The sale was testament to the growing popularity of Chinese collectibles around the globe. Bidders from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan - and other countries like Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Canada and the Russian Federation - got involved.
Overall, Alderfer's total sales reached around $170,000. Its "Asian Discovery Sale" took place on November 17 in Hatfield, United States.
If this result is anything to go buy, collectors worldwide will be game for many more 'Asian discoveries' in 2012.