Appraiser Fired After Missing Mark On $8 Million Vase

( An auction house expert lost his job after the Chinese vase he concluded was an ordinary decorative piece worth €2,000 sold for nearly €8 million, or 4,000 times his assessed price.

According to Jean-Pierre Osenat, the owner of the Paris auction house where the expert worked, a mistake of this kind is “quite extraordinary,” adding that the expert was no longer employed.

The vase was obtained by Osenat from a French woman living abroad who decided to sell the contents of her late mother’s Brittany home. The woman entrusted Osenat to sell the Chinese vase that had belonged to her grandmother, sending it to Paris to be sold at a “furniture and works of art” auction consisting of 200 lots, none of which was valued at over €8,000.

On October 1, the Chinese vase went up for auction.

According to the catalog, the vase was listed in “good condition” and was given an estimated price between €1,500 and €2,000 based on the expert’s conclusion that it was not a rare artifact but a 20th-century decorative piece.

But savvy collectors knew better. Osenat said after the catalog of the auction went online, he was swamped with between 300 and 400 interested buyers.

With interest in the auction heated, Osenat’s auction house decided to restrict bidding. Online bids were not allowed and the number of buyers was limited to 30, each of whom was required to pay a €10,000 deposit to take part. Half of the buyers appeared in person while the other half did their bidding over the phone.

On the day of the auction, buyers brought lamps and magnifying glasses to inspect the supposed 20th-century decorative vase.

When the vase came up for auction, frantic bidding erupted as potential buyers quickly drove the price to half a million euros. Then someone shouted “two million,” and the bids just kept going. By the time only 2 minutes remained, the price had reached €7 million.

When Osenat brought down the gavel at the end, the vase sold for €7.7 million to an anonymous Chinese buyer. With fees, the buyer will pay the auction house €9.12 million.