17th-century Chinese incense burner sold for $4.9M

Family used it to hold tennis balls

(CNN) – A bronze bowl that was being used by a family to store tennis balls has sold for $4.9 million (4.8 million Swiss francs).

Experts from Swiss auctioneers Koller Auctions were valuing items at the family home when they spotted the bowl, a parcel-gilt bronze incense burner with phoenix heads for handles.

“When they saw the bowl, they were amazed. They’d never seen anything quite like it,” Karl Green, head of media relations and marketing for Koller Auctions, told CNN.

The bowl, believed to be from the late 17th century, had belonged to the Swiss family for years after being brought to Europe from after a trip to China. According to Green, the family offered the bowl to a museum in Berlin, but the museum had no interest in the piece.

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