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Anonymous collector buys glass vase for $150k after it was picked up at an op shop for $6


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Jessica Vincent had just started surveying the shelves of an op shop in the US state of Virginia when a vase caught her eye. It was shaped like a bottle and had ribbons of colour, aqua green and amethyst purple, that spiralled up its glass surface like stripes of paint.

The piece looked old amongst the clutter of measuring cups, candles and other trinkets. After adjusting her eyes, 43-year-old Ms Vincent made out the words “Murano” and “Italia” on its base.

“I bought it thinking it would look beautiful in my house somewhere,” said Ms Vincent, a horse trainer who paid $US3.99 ($6) at a Goodwill store outside of the city of Richmond.

“I definitely didn’t buy it thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to sell this.'”

Her thinking changed after some research, and on December 13 the vase sold through the Wright Auction House for $US107,100 ($150,000).

The buyer, a top collector from Europe, wished to remain private.

Ms Vincent’s purchase came after years of perusing garage sales and op shops with her mother. She loves the TV show Antiques Roadshow and has daydreamed many times of this kind of lottery ticket-level transaction.

“I always felt like I had a good eye,” said Ms Vincent, who now visits op shops a few times a week with her partner. “But I’m really surprised that nobody picked it up before I did.”

The rare vase was produced by the renowned glass company Venini and designed by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa.(Supplied: Wright Auction House)

The vase was likely on the shelf for only a couple of days given its quality and the quick rate at which products are sold, said Laura Faison, a spokeswoman for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia. Each store averages about 2,000 new pieces a day, and they often come in from a car’s trunk.

“It could have been someone cleaning out grandma’s basement,” Ms Faison said of the vase’s backstory. “We’ll probably never know.”

Ms Vincent arrived at the Goodwill on a June afternoon with her partner, Naza Acosta, after a day of training horses. The vase felt heavy in her hands. And while Ms Vincent had seen painted glass before, the vase’s swirling colours were different. They came from the glass itself, she said, “and it was just so delicately done”.

‘Very rare’ vase made by top Italian glass designer

Back home, Ms Vincent posted photos in Facebook groups for glass art and soon joined a private one for Murano glass.

The “Murano” on the vase’s bottom referred to the island in Venice that has been famous for its glasswork since the 13th century. Its highly prized creations have included ornate crystal chandeliers and mirror frames, many of which adorn the palaces of Europe’s aristocracy.

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