The Economist looks at the crazy jade market and finds a great story:
Mr Axford is head of the Asia department in a small provincial English auction house called Woolley & Wallis, in the southern town of Salisbury. A year ago, he offered for auction a Qianlong-period green jade buffalo that belonged to Lady Diana Miller, daughter of the 5th Earl of Yarborough. The buffalo had lain in a bank vault since the Battle of Britain in 1940 and was still wrapped in wartime newspaper when Mr Axford saw it for the first time.
The internet has done much to change the auction business. No longer do small country auction houses have to languish in obscurity. Good photographs posted on the web now reach potential buyers all over the world.
On the day of the sale last May, Woolley’s auction room was full of bidders who had made the journey from London, and even from as far afield as Hong Kong and mainland China. Bidding for the buffalo opened at £150,000 ($230,000) and rose to £3.4m (£4.2m including commission and taxes). The buyer was Daniel Eskenazi, the son of London’s pre-eminent dealer in Chinese treasures, who was bidding on behalf of Bruno Eberli, a Swiss foreign-exchange specialist based in New York. The sale brought Mr Axford considerable publicity. The 88-year-old Lady Diana was delighted, and resolved to buy herself a racehorse.
Jade for Joy (Economist)