Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Is this vase a waste of money?

Ancient vase spilling out coins

Vase valued at less than £600 sells for £3.8m.

A Chinese vase has recently sold at auction in Geneva, Switzerland, for 10,000 times more than its guide price.

The 23inch tall vase, which depicts three blue dragons on a yellow background, was valued between 500 and 800 Swiss francs (or £382 to £611) when it went on sale at the Geneve-Encheres auction house.

However, a bidding war between an ‘amateur’ from Asia and a competitor bidding on the phone saw the price skyrocket. The vase finally sold for five million Swiss francs (£3.8m), a record for anything sold in Geneva outside of jewellery and watches.

So, was the vase worth the money? Maybe, maybe not. According to the guide, the vase is from the 20th century but it bears an unverified mark from the 18th-century Qianlong era – which if genuine would significantly increase its value. The auctioneer said the age of the vase was difficult to evaluate accurately and that they tended to be conservative in their estimates.