PARIS: A rare Chinese Buddha statue, found in a French family home and part of a set thought to have been lost, is expected to fetch €1 million ($1.1 million) when it is auctioned on Tuesday in Paris.
According to the auction house Bonhams, the piece is a very rare wood figure, a religious work depicting the Buddhist Bodhisattva Guanyin made in the 12th or 13th century under the Jin dynasty.
Over a metre high, the piece was last sold in the 1930s to a family in Boulogne, a suburb near Paris. The family wishes to remain anonymous.
Large sculptures such as the one to be sold were originally made for Buddhist temples.
Caroline Schulten, the head of Chinese art at Bonhams, said the family was unaware of the statue’s value until they called her about getting an estimate.
“It was passed down in the family to the present generation, and it had been sitting in a private home,” she said.
“What has happened since then (the last sale) is that it has lost the fingers of the one hand … because they were clearly there when it was sold in 1932. So in between, I was told there were children playing football around it, so things happened, quite clearly.”
Bonhams says there are likely only a handful of such pieces left in the world, mostly in museums.
“This is one of the few that has survived, so it’s quite possible that there are more pieces from this group that are still around in France, or maybe in Belgium or Switzerland,” said Schulten.
“And it’s quite exciting to think that maybe the sale of this figure or the publicity around it will generate more people looking at home and realising that ‘We’ve got a figure like that’.”