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Lot 800: the Bainbridge vase

The story of an antique Chinese vase, found in a house clearance in Pinner and sold for £43m in a small auction room, was a suburban fairytale. Was it also too good to be true?

By Sam Knight   May 2011

On a Thursday evening in late March, with the clock above his head showing twenty past six, Peter Bainbridge climbed into the rostrum at his auction room in West Ruislip. A large man in his early sixties, with owlish eyebrows and thin grey hair that he combs back, Bainbridge was wearing a tweed jacket with a handkerchief in his top pocket. He folded himself into a wooden chair hidden by the rostrum and leaned forward.

Bainbridge was resuming an auction of antiques and general effects that had started at 11am. As yet, the murmurings in the saleroom—a beige warehouse crammed…

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