Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Broken Antique Pieces 2

This blue-n-white vase from the Yuan dynasty fetched a record price of 230 millions RMB during its auction in 2002. Why is the Yuan blue-n-white vase (as it is called in the market) so expensive? In the world of antiques, rarity is priceless. There were only about 40 odd blue-n-white vases
in the world today and most of them are in museums. Not only that, these vases usually have interesting ancient stories of historical figures painted on them in blue-white glaze. The vases before that have flowers and scenery painted on them. Hence, whenever there is a blue-n-white on auction, all the big shots of the world will bid until they bleed, just to get their hand on this rare piece of art work. Blue-n-white ware started during the Yuan dynasty, flourished during the Ming dynasty and reached its peak during the early Qing dynasty.

Yuan blue-n-white vase
There is  a collector, who has a passion for broken porcelain pieces, managed to get two blue-n-white vases, all from the flea market. These two vases have paintings of the famous seven taoists and five lords of their faith. The figures on the vases are very well painted with different shades of blue glaze.

How could a collector manage to find two Yuan blue-n-whites in the flea market where broken porcelain pieces were traded?

If you remember in my earlier post, this collector has a passion for broken porcelain pieces. He bought one such piece for 5500 RMB (the dragon piece) and a businessman offered him one million RMB yet he refused to part with this broken piece.

This collector (Mr C) liked to frequent flea markets to look for broken porcelain pieces. After spending a few thousand RMB buying the broken porcelain from a girl, he was about to leave the stall when the girl took out a broken piece kept under her clothing. She showed it to Mr C. Due to his many years of experience in handling broken porcelain, immediately he knew this was an important piece. He wanted to buy it but the girl said it was not for sale. No matter how he persuaded the girl, he was just not able to buy it. He left the place disappointed and frustrated. When he returned to the market the next .day, the girl was no where to be found. He searched high and low in all flea markets of the city and still he was unable to locate the girl.

A few years later, he travelled north to another city. In a flea market, he finally spotted the girl selling broken porcelain pieces. The girl remembered him. When asked about that broken porcelain, she told him that it was a piece taken from a broken vase.

She later told him the reason why she could not sell him the broken porcelain. She said this broken piece belong to a particular group of persons. What was more astonishing was that the all of the broken pieces from this vase actually belonged to three different group of people. Mr C realised that it was an impossible task (Mission Impossible) to acquire all these broken pieces. Anyway, he needed to give it a try. Hence he got the girl to arrange a meeting with all the co-owners of the broken pieces of porcelain. He wanted to see what was on offer before he could name a price.

When the broken pieces were brought to him, he was stunned. Why?

Not only these pieces were from a genuine blue-n-white Yuan vase, he realised that they were actually from 2 broken vases as he saw 2 bases. It would be incredible if he could lay his hand on all these pieces. He wanted to buy these pieces whatever the cost.

He had a mission, if he was able to acquire all these pieces, perhaps if could restore them to their original form. It would be an impossible task knowing that there were so many co-owners of these pieces. The smallest group of them all was one person, then the biggest was the group with 17 people. The intermediate group comprised of 5 people. It was really an uphill task to get all of them to sell the pieces to him.

The first broken piece was from the lone owner. As the negotiations went on, he was able to buy this piece from him. He also managed to get the smaller group to sell him the pieces belong to them.

His biggest hurdle was to convince the biggest group of 17 co-owners to part with their pieces. As this group comprised of 17 people, they asked for a very high price of more than 2 millions RMB. This was not a small sum at that time. Negotiations went on and on but without success. Mr C brought along his wife for the negotiations but still they could not resolved their differences.

Mrs C knew her husband's desire to own all the broken pieces. She had to help him to fulfil his dream. They had earlier invested in a property worth around 2 millions RMB. The only way they could meet the demand of the last group of co-owners was to sell off this property. So they got rid of the property at a price slightly below market value. With fresh funds in their hand, they finally purchased the rest of the porcelain pieces from their owners.

Two years later, the broken pieces of porcelain were pieced together. They are two lovely blue-n-white vases. These are the two blue-n-white Yuan vases I mentioned earlier in this post.

Mr C is a determined collector. His passion for the blue-n-white ware enabled him to restore numerous antiques from broken pieces. How many of us can do what Mr C did. Not only you need to have passion and good judgement, you need financial means as well to achieve such a  task.

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