They took it to the local auctioneer Bainbridges, in nearby Ruislip, who were in turn excited by the find and valued it at between £800,000 and £1.2m.
However, no one expected the reaction from Chinese buyers, who pushed the bidding up over 30 frenzied minutes to a world record £43m.
By the end of the auction, the price was increasing in £1m chunks as the final few bidders - understood to be mainland Chinese businessmen - vied for the vase.
The final selling price was about $85 million.
Link | Photo: Bloomberg