Peter Bainbridge director of the Ruislip auctioneers of the same name, has confirmed that the payment dispute centring around the ‘Pinner Vase’, an 18th century Qianlong-dynasty ceramic sold in 2010 has been settled. The terms of the sale have not been released, but a private treaty brokered by Bonham’s Auctioneers has been successful in bringing to a close one of the most expensive disputes in auction history.
The vase, thought to have been looted from the Imperial Summer Palace during the infamous raids by the British and the French in 1860, sold to a Chinese buyer for £43 million who reportedly argued over the 20% commission, which amounted to £8.6m. Most major auction houses charge commission on a sliding scale, which would amount to 14%. Ivan Macquisten, editor of the Antiques Trade Gazette, the industry’s weekly newspaper, was quoted as saying, “Bainbridge’s was in a difficult position. If Bainbridge’s reduced the buyer’s commission, they could face legal action from any failed underbidder arguing that he could have bid higher with a lower premium. Reducing the buyer’s premium after the sale would put the underbidder at a disadvantage. This effectively meant that Bainbridge’s had no discretion in the matter. The 41cm vessel is a yang cai reticulated double-walled vase, with famille rose decoration, had been consigned by retired solicitor Tony Johnson to a local auction, after being found while helping to clear his late aunt’s home in Pinner.
Julian Roup, a spokesman for Bonhams, said: ‘We are pleased to confirm the sale of the vase for an undisclosed sum, in a private treaty deal.’Bonham’s also confirmed that they had negotiated the deal which is understood to be with a new buyer, a Far Eastern collector. It is thought that around £22m has exchanges hands in the sale.