The man, an “extremely wealthy” Chinese industrialist, is said to have been pushed to buy the vase “at all costs” after losing an auction for a similar but less expensive item in Hong Kong earlier in the year.
Delays between purchase and payment are normal, however, antiques experts now believe the businessman has a severe case of “cold feet”.
One auctioneer, who asked not to be identified, said: “In the heat of the moment you can get carried away, your blood gets up and you absolutely must have this thing.
“Then the next day you wake up, have a cold shower and think: “What have I done?”. Even rich people can get cold feet.”
Others have speculated that the businessman is unlikely to have had £53m in ready cash and might need time to raise it.
The Financial Times chews over the authenticity of the record-setting vase. It has become fashionable to call the vase a fake but that would suggest the sellers intended to pass the work off as something it was not. Instead, the value of the vase came from the expectations of the bidders as dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi points out:
The emergence of an exceptional and totally unknown piece in such an unlikely setting had prompted many to speculate on the authenticity of the vase. “It is not clear-cut to say that it is wrong,” explains the respected London-based dealer in Chinese art Giuseppe Eskenazi: “It is not an obvious fake and several knowledgeable authorities, including the late Julian Thompson [a former chairman of Sotheby’s], believed in it completely.”
[…] Among those bidding on behalf of clients, however, was Nicholas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and the International Head of Sotheby’s Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art department.
No one disputes that collectors were prepared to bid enormous sums for the vase. It had come to the block with an estimate of £800,000-£1.2m, although experts believed it could fetch more than £10m. At £25m, a record-breaking figure, there were still five bidders in the running.
Doubts Hang Over Record Sale of Chinese Vase (Financial Times)
Mystery Over Record Sale of £51m Chinese Vase (Telegraph)