Bowl Bought at Yard Sale for $35 Expected to Go for Between $300K to $500K at Auction

A selection of items at a yard sale in suburbia.
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It remains a mystery how the bowl ended up at the yard sale, according to a report.

Who would have thought that a small porcelain bowl purchased at a Connecticut yard sale for $35 would be worth between $300,000 and $500,000?

Looks like one buyer did.

Last year, when an antiques enthusiast stumbled on a white bowl with a cobalt blue floral design at a yard sale in the New Haven area, they knew with its ornate design and shape, that it could be something special, according to a report. 

The 6-inch bowl dates back to the Yongle emperor, the third ruler of the Ming Dynasty, and was made for the Yongle court, according to Sotheby’s auction house website.

The auction house said that the buyer, who did not want to be identified, emailed information to Sotheby’s to get the bowl evaluated, The New York Post reported

Experts at Sotheby’s said they knew instantly that this wasn’t just another pretty floral bowl and that it was something special, the Post reported. 

“The style of painting, the shape of the bowl, even just the color of the blue is quite characteristic of that early, early 15th-century period of porcelain,” said Angela McAteer, Sotheby’s senior vice president and head of its Chinese works of art department.

The auction’s website details the history behind the ornate find.

“The Yongle court (1403 – 1424) 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," the site reads.

The auction house said there are six other bowls like this one in museums in Taiwan, Tehran, Taipei, London and Iran. None are located in museums in the United States. 

On May 17, the bowl will be put up for bidding during Sotheby’s auction of important Chinese art.