Appraisal Video: (3:45)
Lark Mason & Associates
GUEST: My grandparents picked it up. They traveled a lot in China.
APPRAISER: And when were they in China?
GUEST: Probably the early part of the century.
APPRAISER: Okay. Where have you had this since then?
GUEST: My mother's had it in her house, and then I inherited it and brought it West.
GUEST: She lives near Boston.
APPRAISER: You've had other people look at this, and what have they told you?
GUEST: Well, some years ago, she knew someone who knew about Chinese art, and he looked at it, and he said it was from the Ming Dynasty, he thought, and priceless, and that's all I know.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, I'll start out by saying when this came up, I could barely...
GUEST: I could tell.
APPRAISER: It's fantastic. This is truly... I'm sorry, I'm all worked up. This is among the finest examples of Chinese art that we have seen on the ROADSHOW. The carving is beautiful. The workmanship is stunning. The carver who did this was truly a master. You can see the muscles rippling under the surface. It's marble. It's the finest quality marble you can get. It's truly magnificent. And as you look at this, any way you look at it, it's fantastic. It's wonderful. It's breathtaking. I see little, tiny versions of these that come in for sale, but never does one see one that's like this.
APPRAISER: Now, one of the things he was wrong about is, it's not Ming Dynasty.
APPRAISER: This dates from the Golden Period of Chinese art, which is called the Tang Dynasty, between the sixth century and the ninth century.
APPRAISER: Your grandparents bought something when they were on their trip that you can't get now. You can see examples like this in museums.
APPRAISER: Um, occasionally, they come up at auction. You know, it's wonderful.
GUEST: Oh, I don't plan to pass it on.
APPRAISER: It's wonderful. Now, one of the ways that I can tell you that it's what it's supposed to be, not only just from the artistic aspects of it, because that tells us clearly that this was done by a masterwork, as a master carver. But when you look at it underneath, you can see that there's every indication of great age--
APPRAISER: --from the chisel work that's taken place to the sort of sandy surface, which is fantastic. That gives you the kind of patina that you want to see. It's something that's been handled, and it's been around for a while. It's a great thing.
GUEST: The artist didn't sign it.
APPRAISER: No, these were never signed. Now, I was with my colleagues, Dessa Goddard and Jim Callahan, both of whom work in the auction business. We've all been in the business for 20, 30 years. And we were each trying to figure out what the value of this would be. And I'm sure... I'm sure you want to know.
GUEST: Well, I mean, that's not important to me, particularly, but I'd be curious, yes.
APPRAISER: Okay, okay. Um... I would feel pretty confident that one could get between $120,000-$180,000 for it.
GUEST: Wow. Not that I'd sell it but yeah.
APPRAISER: I mean it's a fantastic, fantastic thing. I think, you know, if you had come to me ten years ago with this, I would have gotten $300,000 to $400,000 for it.
APPRAISER: The market has shifted; it's changed. Uh, there are a lot of great examples of Chinese sculpture that have come on the market since then. Now, the value I gave you is an auction estimate value.
APPRAISER: That's what you could sell it for.
APPRAISER: If you wanted to keep this, which is what you said you want to do, I would say that an insurance figure on this would be somewhere between, you know, $150,000 and $250,000. Probably toward the high end. I would say around $250,000--
APPRAISER: --for insurance purposes.
GUEST: I'm just really pleased.
APPRAISER: So it was worth lugging it in here.
GUEST: Yeah, it's... it's wonderful.