Consignor discovers $117K Chinese screen under bed

PALM BEACH, Fla. – One never knows what lies beneath the bed, in the closet or buried in the attic. A Tallahassee resident learned that lesson first hand after an Imperial Chinese screen discovered under his bed brought $117,300 at a July 25 Manor Auctions sale.

The consignor, a local, had absolutely no clue as to the value he had slept above for the past 20 years. In fact, he cannot even recall exactly where he bought the screen – except to believe it was purchased in a lot of screens from a New York auction house years back. In which case, the world’s prominent Chinese collectors would have most likely overlooked it.

The screen created global fervor among Chinese collectors; it dates back hundreds of years to Imperial China. No screen of this quality or rarity has seen the light of day in recent years, so the interest was intense from moment this screen hit the market – "we knew it was going to be exciting to sell – but not $117,300 exciting” said Paul Barattini, owner of Grace Estate Buyers — Manor Auctions Tallahassee Office.

Barattini said the sale of this screen reinforces the importance of professional research and auction services when people have potential valuables they are uncertain about. The battle to own the screen waged on for over 5 minutes between floor, Internet and phone bidders, with an unnamed phone bidder finally winning out.

This Imperial Chinese screen most likely made its way to the states by way of Britain. When the British Expeditionary Force of 1901 was sent to lift the siege of the British Legation in Beijing and quell the Boxer Rebellion, it is known that they entered the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Many of the original artifacts and decorations were taken back to Britain and a good many of those found their way to the States.

Manor Auctions, the auction division to Sun State Collectibles of Palm Beach, has Florida galleries in Tallahassee, Lake City, Vero, and Sun City and will be opening their new Thomasville, Ga., office this month. Manor Auctions can be reached at or 850-523-3787.


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