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She Bought It for $100. Sotheby's Just Auctioned It Off

Unnamed buyer sees Buddha statue go for $2.1M
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2019 1:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – That garage sale in your neighborhood? Another reason to check it out: A Chinese statuette bought for $100 at just such a sale sold Wednesday at Sotheby's for an incredible $2.1 million, MarketWatch reports. The unnamed buyer appeared on the PBS show Antiques Roadshow in 2017 and said she picked it up at a Missouri garage sale about 20 years before: "I almost didn’t have a chance to acquire it, because I was having 15 people for lunch," she said on Roadshow. "There was a local person who was a colorful character in Kirkwood, so I really wanted to get to his garage sale (so) I rushed out." Roadshow evaluator Robert Waterhouse suggested it was a good thing she got there in time.

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"It's likely that the quality would indicate that it's an imperial piece," said Waterhouse. "A very conservative retail price would be $100,000–125,000." Conservative, indeed: A last-minute bid flurry at the New York auction house sent the bronze Buddha statue from an estimated $80,000 value to its final sale. Dated to the year 907 or earlier, the statue depicts Chinese Buddhist deity Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara holding objects including a lotus steam and a dharma wheel with its six hands, Artnet reports. The stunning sale is a highlight at this week's Asia Week auctions, which saw a full set of the Buddhist text Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment fetch $2.7 million and a group of jade carvings go for $3.2 million. (Read more auction stories.)

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