Tang Dynasty Marble Lion

Value (2002) | $120,000 Auction$250,000 Insurance
Watch  

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. 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:
(voice breaking) It's fantastic. This is truly... 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 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 breathtaking. I see little, tiny versions of these that come in for sale, but never does one see one like this.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Now, one of the things he was wrong about is, it's not Ming Dynasty. This dates from the Golden Period of Chinese art, which is called the Tang Dynasty, between the sixth century and the ninth century.

GUEST:
Wow. Your grandparents bought something when they were on their trip that you can't get now.

GUEST:
(gasps)

APPRAISER:
You can see examples like this in museums.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Occasionally, they come up at auction. It's wonderful.

GUEST:
Oh, I plan to pass it on.

APPRAISER:
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 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. I would feel pretty confident that one could get between $120,000 and $180,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Not that I'd sell it.

APPRAISER:
It's a fantastic, fantastic thing. Now, the value I gave you is an auction estimate value. 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...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
For insurance purposes. I'm just really pleased.

GUEST:
So it was worth lugging it in here.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, it's... it's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2002)
$120,000 Auction$250,000 Insurance
Event
Albuquerque, NM (July 20, 2002)
Period
Tang Dynasty
Form
Sculpture
Material
Marble

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