An 18th century Chinese vase which sat in a UK kitchen for several years has sold at an auction for $1.8million (£1.4m).
The lucrative treasure, which dates back to the Qing dynasty, was sold for the incredible amount after historians realised it had once belonged to an emperor.
This vase would likely have been placed in the Forbidden Palace — where the Chinese emperor resided — or in one of the emperor's other palaces, according to Mark Newstead, a specialist consultant for Asian ceramics and works of art.
The consultant told Live Science that the vase was owned by a surgeon who "we believe bought it in the early 1980s".
He said: "The surgeon was a buyer in the country salerooms in the Midlands from the 1970s onwards and that is all we know."
After the surgeon died, the vase was passed on to his son, but neither of them realised its true value, with the vase placed in the son's kitchen for some time.
The vase's unclear history — combined with the looting of Chinese palaces in the 19th century — raises ethical concerns, according to an expert who was not involved with the sale.
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The vase is large, about 2ft tall and is marked with a symbol associated with the Qianlong emperor — the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty — who ruled China from 1735 to 1795.
The vase is painted with a colour called "sacrificial blue" and is decorated with gold and silver throughout, depicting clouds, cranes, fans, flutes and bats, which are symbols of the emperor's Daoist beliefs.
Newstead described the combination of silver and gold used on this vase as "technically very difficult to achieve and that's what makes it so special and unusual."
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