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Picked up for 3 bucks, Chinese bowl goes for $2.2 million at auction

The bowl, from China's Northern Song Dynasty, turned out to be a 1000-year-old treasure. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

A Chinese bowl that a New York family picked up for $3 at a garage sale turned out to be a 1,000-year-old treasure and has sold at auction for $2.2 million.

The bowl — ceramic, 5 inches in diameter and with a saw-tooth pattern etched around the outside — went to a London dealer, Giuseppe Eskenazi, at Sotheby’s auction house in New York on Tuesday.


Sotheby’s said the bowl was from the Northern Song Dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1127 and is known for its cultural and artistic advances.

The auction house said the only other known bowl of similar size and design has been in the collection of the British Museum for more than 60 years. The house had estimated that this one would sell for $200,000 to $300,000.

Sotheby’s did not identify the sellers, but said they put the bowl up for auction after consulting with experts. The family bought the bowl in 2007 and had kept it on a mantel in the years since. There weren't any additional details made public about the garage sale where they had purchased the item.

Eskenazi is regarded as one of the world’s foremost dealers of Oriental art. He opened a gallery in 1960 with his father and started a festival, Asian Art in London, for international collectors.

“We will buy when we can, choosing carefully, not being influenced just by what is selling,” he told The Economist magazine for a profile in 2010.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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