May 17 2012 By James Cracknell
HE couldn't quite match the £43m fetched for a Qianlong Dynasty vase 18 months ago, but Ruislip auctioneer Peter Bainbridge was still chuffed with the £3m he flogged a collection of Chinese pottery for on Thursday afternoon.
It was the first time since the record-breaking sale in November 2010 that Bainbridge's Auctioneers had welcomed such a large influx of Chinese art collectors to Ickenham Road, West Ruislip.
The sale of the 18th century vase - worth £59m including tax and fees - is yet to be completed and there is speculation the buyer has got cold feet.
But prior to today's 30-lot auction Mr Bainbridge gave a rare public comment about its progress. "Just to bring you up to speed, we are in possession of a great deal of the money from that transaction," he said.
"However, there is a bit of difficulty in that part of the world with the buyer and it has slowed things down."
Whether he will ever seal the deal remains to be seen, but visibly enthused to see so many Chinese buyers in his auction house once again, Mr Bainbridge got to work selling more pottery from the Far East.
Lot after lot went for thousands more than their valuation. Lot 3, a Song Dynasty saucer listed for between £400 and £600, went for a whopping £75,000.
The numbers kept climbing as the afternoon went on until lot 29 attracted the interest of an expert from the Chinese Foundation.
Adam Qiang sparked a fierce bidding war before finally settling on £1.4m for the rare Ming Dynasty blue and white dice bowl.
He told the Gazette afterwards that he would have paid up to £2m for it. But instead, Mr Qiang used the money he saved to buy the next lot, another Ming Dynasty bowl, for £850,000.
Asked why the bowls were worth so much, he said: "This was a very important collection, it has a history and it is high quality."
Bainbridge's were chosen to sell the collection by the family of Otto Harriman, who died in 1950. The pottery is currently on display at Nottingham Castle Museum.
Mr Bainbridge said the sale had exceed his expectations. "It was blistering," he told the Gazette.
"Once again Ruislip's local auction house has held its own against all the major competition."
At this rate, Bainbridge's will soon be the default choice for anyone with a spare piece of Chinese porcelain clogging up their cupboard.