A $3 Garage Sale Bowl Fetches $2.2 Million At Auction

Next time you are at a garage sale, keep your eye out for ancient Chinese objects of art. You never know....

This from the New York Post: A New York family scored a huge payday when this small bowl, which they bought at a garage sale for $3, turned out to be a 1,000-year old Chinese piece that sold for $2.2 million at Sotheby’s. The family bought the rare bowl at the secondhand sale in 2007, and kept it sitting on their mantle for years, the auction house said.

After becoming curious, the bargain hunters began consulting experts about the bowl. They finally brought the piece to Sotheby’s, which estimated it would sell for somewhere in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. But yesterday, London art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi blew away those figures when he plunked down $2.2 million for the museum-quality piece.

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The small Chinese pottery bowl that started as a $3 tag sale only to turn into a massive $2.2 million windfall at auction.He beat four other bidders for the Northern Song dynasty bowl — known as a Ding bowl — which dates back to the 10th or 11th century.There is only one other bowl like it in the world, and it is in the British Museum.A little less than 5 1/2 inches in diameter, the multimillion-dollar bowl could be mistaken for a decorative ashtray.Early-era Ding wares are known for their small utilitarian qualities, Sotheby’s said.Author Rose Kerr believes the ornamental Ding bowls were made to mimic the more elaborate gold and silver wares that were common in palaces.

The ancient piece is described as a Ding bowl because of the county Ding in the Hebei province where the kilns used to make the bowls were housed. The Ding bowl owned by the British Museum in London has been on display for more than 60 years, since it was bequeathed by famous collector Henry J. Oppenheim.

This isn’t the first big buy for Eskenazi. In 2005, the Turkish-born dealer paid $23.5 million for a rare blue-and-white jar from the 14th century at a Christie’s auction. Sotheby’s would not identify the lucky bowl sellers, only to say that they were a family from somewhere in New York state.

Earlier this month, a collection of abstract Impressionist art found in a Long Island garage was appraised at $30 million.

The owners of the bungalow found thousands of paintings and drawings by the Armenian-American artist Arthur Pinajian in 2007. They were later appraised by art historian Peter Hastings Falk and shown at the Antiquorum Gallery in Midtown.

What are these Objects of Art Worth?

Foo dog vase Foo dog vaseQuestion: I recently purchased these pieces at an antique store in Chinatown in San Francisco. I don't know if you can do both, so which ever you feel like appraising is fine. I will be very grateful.  The vases are 6 inches in height, and the foo dogs are 13.5 inches high.Thank you very much!


RD Langer replies: Ms. Lee, from the photos, both items look modern to me. They realy need to be examined, but they are possibly worth $100. each lot.

Chinese Pewter Tea Pot

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RD Langer Answers: Sheila, I have seen these in Hong Kong along Hollywood Road. Value $125-150.

Beautiful Chinese Bowl - What is it worth?

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RD Langer Answers: The bowl is Chinese--USD50.-75 value.

Great list of books on appraising your objects.

Soapstone Carving - What is it Worth?

Soapstone carving



Question: Can you please tell me what this is worth? Thank you.


RD Langer Answers: Brady, sorry to advise  that it appears to have limited value, However I would have to examine it more closelyto provide a more bona fide opinion.

Red Soapstone Vase - What is it worth?

Red soaptone carvingQuestion: Can you tell me how much this is worth?  It was purchased in the 1940s in WWII.

RD Langer Answers: Betsy, it is a beautiful looking, vase.It should bring between $150.-$225, at auction.

What is This Chinese Vase or Jar Worth?

Kumming vaseQuestion: A Chinese vase bought at a shop in Kunming  - 6 ½ inches high – markings on bottom are same as Qing vase sold recently. Any value to this one?


RDL Answers: Vase could possibly bring $150-250. at auction.

A Dentist Office Treasure Trove - What is This Worth?

Chinese soapstone vase2Question: We bought a dental office many years ago which was filled with all sorts of Chinese tables, chairs, etc. and this was one of the items.  Could you tell us if it has any value?  Thank you.  Chris Kretchun


RDL Answers: I have to examine for chips, and cracks. You dod not provide size.  Looks like 10 inches width.Probably worth between $150-200.