Source AP ©

Precious 18th century Chinese vase sold at auction for millions

A precious 18th century Chinese vase sat in a closet virtually forgotten for about three decades was sold for more than 2.82 million pounds (US$5.87 million; 3.99 million EUR).

The vase's Swiss owner put her piece up for auction after spotting a similar work at a London museum, Sotheby's said. Her blue-and-white "dragon" vase had been sitting at the bottom of her wardrobe since the 1970s, when an expert told her the piece was a copy.

"They did her a huge favor," said Alastair Gibson, the head of Sotheby's Chinese department in London. "It would have been worth about 10,000 pounds then and now it's just made, as you know, 2.5 million (pounds) plus."

The international market for Chinese antiquities is booming, fueled in part by an increasing appetite on behalf of wealthy Chinese collectors for relics of their country's imperial past.

Gibson said the Qing dynasty vase, decorated with five-clawed dragons, had been in the woman's family since the early 1950s, when it was purchased from a German antique dealer.

They had used it to hold flowers.