David Lay Chinese porcelain beats auction estimate 40 times over

The value of a Chinese porcelain at David Lay's recent auction in Cornwall, UK took everyone by surprise, especially its consignor.

"She was having a home hairdo at the time," Mr Lay explained to the BBC.

"I had to hang on until I could talk to her, but of course she was very pleased."

The 18th century porcelain in question was a damaged and incomplete altarpiece in the form of a Tibetan stupa structure, which had appeared at the December auction with a high-end estimate of £600.

Tibetan stupa Chinese porcelain
Worth £25,000, or approximately
1,250 shampoo and sets


The item sold for £25,000 to a London-based dealer, with a bevy of bidders from China pushing the price far beyond expectations.

"To my right was a computer screen and I could see these Chinese bidders fighting away and the price soaring," said Lay.

"Nine times out of 10 we come pretty close with our price estimates, but I am delighted to confess that we got this one spectacularly wrong."

Its previous owner had employed the 22cm-high piece as a table lamp.

The sale is a reminder of the strong value of Chinese artefacts at the moment.

The growing prosperity of China is a key factor in the buoyancy of the market.

There are more than 960,000 millionaires in the country, with numbers up 9.7% in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to data from the Hurun Research Institute.

It is no wonder that among the growing numbers of millionaires exist aspirational collectors keen to repatriate their country's rich artistic heritage.

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