Image: Chinese vase
Bainbridge Auctioneers via AP
This 16-inch-high Chinese vase, decorated with a fish motif, was sold for $69.3 million in London on Thursday. staff and news service reports
updated 11/11/2010 8:58:18 PM ET 2010-11-12T01:58:18

An 18th-century Chinese porcelain vase discovered when a house was cleared out was sold Thursday at a London auction for $69.3 million (43 million pounds).

Bainbridges, the auction house, said that the final price for the 16-inch vase — an imperially commissioned piece decorated with a fish motif — far exceeded the pre-auction estimated price, which was about $1.9 million (1.2 million pounds).

The amount was thought to be among the highest ever paid for Asian artwork sold at auction. Bainbridges spokeswoman Helen Porter went further, telling Reuters that the price was "a world record for a piece of Asian art."

After fierce competition among Chinese buyers, the vase was bought by a Chinese bidder who turned up to bid on behalf of an undisclosed buyer. Taxes and commissions boosted the buyer's total bill to $83 million (51.6 million pounds).

A number of Western artworks have gone for higher prices at auction, including an Alberto Giacometti bronze sculpture that was sold at Sotheby's in February for $104.3 million .

The Bainbridges auction house — a small, independent company in the London suburb of Ruislip that runs auctions and valuations for people clearing their homes — said that the vase is of exceptional quality and that it knew the estimated price was "a bit conservative." Still, the final price was beyond all expectations.

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"The rumors grew as more people came to see it ... but we had no idea it would go for this price," Porter told The Associated Press.

The vase was found in "an ordinary home," Porter said. It is believed to have been acquired by an English family during the 1930s or earlier.

This report includes information from AP, Reuters and

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