Bowl Bought at Yard Sale for $35 Turns Out to Be Ancient Chinese Artifact That Could Fetch $500K

The bowl was picked up by an antiques enthusiast in Connecticut

Yard Sale Bowl
Photo: Sotheby's

One man's trash is another man's treasure — and in this case, that treasure could be worth half a million dollars.

An "exceptional and rare" porcelain bowl dating back to the 15th century is set to go to auction at Sotheby's after it was picked up at a yard sale in Connecticut, according to the famed auction house.

The small bowl, with a floral design and a diameter of just 6½ inches, was scooped up for just $35 at a yard sale in New Haven last year by an antiques enthusiast, the Associated Press reported.

It's estimated to be worth between $300,000 and $500,000, and a live auction will begin on March 17 as part of Sotheby's Auction of Important Chinese Art.

Sotheby's said the blue and white bowl is in good condition, and is from the Ming dynasty in the Yongle period, which was from 1403-1424.

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Few others like it exist in the world, and none in the United States; there are two apiece in museums in Taipei, Tawain and London, and one in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, according to Sotheby's.

Angela McAteer, Sotheby's senior vice president and head of its Chinese Works of Art Department, told the AP that there are only seven others in existence, and that she and house expert Hang Yin were able to confirm its authenticity based on characteristics like its smooth touch, silky glaze and color and designs.

"It was immediately apparent to us both that we were looking at something really very, very special," she said.

According to Sotheby's, the Yongle court "brought a very distinctive new style to the porcelain kilns of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi, a style immediately recognizable, never surpassed, and defining the craft still in the eighteenth century."

It remains unclear how the bowl made it to Connecticut, though experts suspect it may have been passed down through generations of the same family who did not realize its worth.

"It's always quite astounding to think that it kind of still happens, that these treasures can be discovered," McAteer told the AP. "It's always really exciting for us as specialists when something we didn't even know existed here appears seemingly out of nowhere."

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