A Chinese vase valued at $200 was sold for $150,000 at an auction in County Laois.

The 12-inch porcelain vase was mistaken for a replica Imperial vase by the auctioneers.

The auction began with an opening bid of $70, and two antique dealers then started a bidding war that lasted a total of four minutes.

The two dealers had noticed that the vase was an authentic Imperial vase on the Internet showroom. B

Both dealers flew to Ireland hoping that they would buy the vase at a knock off price at Sheppards Irish Auction House in Durrow.

Londoner Richard Peters made the winning bid and claims that he got the vase at a bargain price.

"I got a bargain," he said after the bidding war.

The under bidder, Rong Chen, travelled from China and was "very sad and disappointed".

Chen said that her husband spotted the vase on the Internet. “This is the one – we think it was in the Imperial household,” said Chen.

Peters said that the market is "filled with fakes and forgeries" but this vase was "made for the personal collection of the Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century" and had “probably been looted from the Imperial Palace in Peking by French or British or American soldiers sometime during the 19th century".

Peters picked up a second pair of vases for $56,000 at the auction, and they were also valued at $200.

Auctioneer Michael Sheppard said he was stunned when the reserve price of $70 was smashed by bids firstly of hundreds of dollars, then multiples of thousands of dollars.

Chen was told by her husband "to drop out at EUR 100,000."

Sheppard said it "was the highest figure ever achieved for any item" in the 60 year history of the Sheppards Auction house.

The crowd rose to applause when the auction ended. David Stapleton from Ballragget said: "It was one of those moments. You had to be there – like the GPO in 1916.”

The unnamed Carlow family that owned the vase was "chuffed and delighted" by the sale.

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