Looted Chinese Qianlong vase finally sells for $40m in private deal

A looted vase produced for China's Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799), which made headlines in 2010, has finally sold for up to £25m ($40m) to an anonymous Asian buyer.

Qianlong looted chinese vase
Auction houses have faced problems with selling Chinese artefacts in the past

The vase was originally sold to a Chinese buyer, who placed a Chinese art record breaking bid of £43m ($69m) at a 2010 auction. However, he then refused to pay the $8m buyer's premium and the sale was cancelled, shattering the dreams of Tony Johnson and his mother, Gene, who had inherited the vase from a friend.

The Chinese billionaire's move is believed to have been deliberate, in an attempt to prevent the vase's sale. It is one of many objects looted from Beijing's Imperial Summer Palace in 1860, as British and French troops entered the city at the close of the second opium war.

Bonhams was forced to issue an apology to Chinese authorities in November 2012, after similarly looted jade items were pulled from its auction. Another auction in December 2012 was condemned by a Chinese official, but went ahead regardless.

Despite Bonhams' issues with selling these objects, its own expert Colin Sheaf - one of the world's leading authorities on Asian art - is believed to have been instrumental in brokering the £25m ($40m) deal. Created for the Chinese emperor Qianlong, the vase is considered one of the finest pieces of porcelain ever produced in China.  

Paul Fraser Collectibles brings you all the latest news on collectibles. For more, sign up to our free weekly newsletter.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock