When you’re getting ready to board the subway or the bus to work, do you like to have a little snack to keep you company? Perhaps a croissant? What about a waffle drizzled in chocolate sauce? Well, one incredible cafe has now decided to mix these two morning delights into something that you can pick up on the go and eat while getting ready for the day ahead. Yes, this is the Croiffle, and we kinda want about 100 in our hands right now…
The Early Morning Commute
Nobody really likes getting up in the morning. This early start is made even worse by the fact that you have to share a gray train or subway carriage with people you don’t know, who are equally as miserable as you. To get you ready and raring to go for the day ahead, you often need something sweet and caffeine-laced in your life. So, you head to the nearest cafe for your extra-strong espresso and your croissant. However, this can get pretty boring after a while, so what’s the answer? Well, we think it’s the Croiffle.
The Ultimate Sweet Treat
There are some ideas in this world that are both simple and mind-blowing, and the Croiffle is one of those. This incredible invention is the work of the people at GODIVA Cafe at Penn Station in NYC. These people have decided to combine two of the greatest sweet treats in the world to make one extra sweet treat. To make this delicacy, they place a buttery croissant into the waffle iron and watch the magic happen. However, it doesn’t end there. The customer then has the option to fill this Croiffle with whatever they want. This includes all different kinds of chocolate, ham, egg, sausage, cheese, and more.
An Extra Special Menu
Amazingly, this isn’t the only amazing dish on their menu. GODIVA will also be serving their customers delicacies such as mini Belgian waffle bites, granola, yogurt parfait, ice cream, and a whole host of coffees that really do need to be tasted to be believed. Of course, you just have to try the Croiffle before anything else.
There’s nothing better than mixing to delicious food items and making one perfect food, and that’s exactly what this croissant-waffle hybrid is giving us.
Woman Showed Her Old Vase to Expert, Then it Sold for Staggering Price at Auction
You never know what valuable things you might be keeping around in your house for years on end. It might be natural not to think too much about that random ceramic bowl or that pleasant-looking vase that has been gathering dust for as long as you have been alive. However, you never know what journey that antique might have been on and how much it might be worth.
He Thought He Had Seen Everything
Auction house Sotheby’s is world-renowned for bringing to light some of the most incredible antique findings and coming up with audacious valuations for particular items.
One day, art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal posted a video to the auction house’s official YouTube channel, documenting how he recently came across what appeared to be, at first, just a dusty vase. Having received a random phone call from the owner of this vase beforehand, little did he know that his life would be turned upside down.
A Stranger Called Him
In 2019, Johan received a phone call from an unknown number. It was an elderly woman on the other end of the line and she explained that she had a pretty big collection of art. She wanted to know what to do with it at this stage of her life.
After a lengthy discussion, she decided to invite Johan to her home to inspect the pieces, and hopefully, he could provide a valuation. The only problem though was that this lady’s home was in the middle of nowhere in the Netherlands.
Top Secret Journey
Unsurprisingly, Johan was intrigued by what the woman had told him and so he hastily packed his bags and made his way to this quiet part of the Netherlands. Johan didn’t dish out too many details about his trip as he didn’t want to put the woman’s safety at risk.
After all, she was potentially sitting on top of a goldmine that plenty of opportunists might want to exploit. Thankfully though, Johan was allowed to document his findings upon arrival.
As soon as he arrived, Johan knew that he was in for something unique. The remote country house was just as enigmatic as the woman who lived there. “There I met a charming energetic woman in her 80’s,” he said.
“She took me on a tour of the extensive house, and showed me many works of art. Some acquired, some inherited, each with its own history.” However, there was one particular collection that took this story to another level.
Her Chinese Collection Stood Out
While the house was, in general, a sight to behold, Johan knew that the stakes were about to rise when he took one glance at the woman’s Chinese collection.
“We reached a room with a number of Chinese works of art inherited many years ago,” he said. While he wasn’t an expert on Chinese art, Johan could instantly tell that the works of art were unique from the others around the house due to their designs.
Cats Surrounded the Art
One remarkable detail about Johan’s experience at the lady’s home was the fact that she let her pets roam freely around the home. He was shocked to see her four cats nonchalantly walking their way around the Chinese works of art.
The fact that all of these pieces survived for so long and weren’t broken by the pets could only be described by Johan as “a miracle.” It was a matter of time though before his attention was drawn to a standout piece of art.
She Pointed Out a Vase
Amongst the many impressive works of Chinese art, the lady drew Johan’s attention to one particular piece, a dusty vase. It was resting on top of a cupboard and according to Johan, the lady knew deep down that it was “something special and valuable.”
Johan also admitted that it was no ordinary vase. Without haste, the valuer knew he needed to take the vase down from the cupboard and take a closer look at it.
Despite the dust surrounding it, Johan could tell that the vase was beautifully decorated. “The highly refined decoration was extraordinary, the form intriguing. Never before had I come across such a vase,” he said.
“No, this was indeed something special, and the marks at the bottom reminded me of marks seen in special catalogs of auctions of Imperial Chinese porcelain taking place in Hong Kong.” As he removed the dust though, Johan discovered something else about the vase that blew his mind.
As he removed the dust from the vase, it became clearer to Johan that this Chinese vase had a reticulated lower part. In other words, it had a netted design. “I carefully took it down and, because of the dust on its surface, only then I noticed the reticulated lower part of the vase,” he said.
While this might not sound like such an Earth-shattering detail upon first glance, the fact that the vase had a reticulated design meant something else.
A Vase Inside a Vase
Seeing that the vase had this netting quality on its surface, this meant that something else was hiding inside. “Only then I noticed the reticulated lower part of the vase through which I could see the blue and white vase inside,” Johan said.
The smaller vase inside had a completely different design. Of course, only the interior vase could actually operate properly as a traditional one. But the two-in-one design was something Johan had rarely seen in person.
This Wasn’t in His Wheelhouse
Despite not being an expert in Chinese art, Johan knew that he was onto something special here. And this was coming from someone who had been in the art dealing industry for many decades already.
He started off in the industry back in the ’80s and eventually got his big break when he joined Christie’s auctioneers. Sitting there with this surefire masterpiece in front of him, he knew he needed advice from someone who really understood Chinese art.
He Took Photos Immediately
Knowing that he had to make moves as quickly as possible, Johan decided to take photos of the unique vase. “I asked the owner if I could take some photos for further research,” he said.
As soon as the lady agreed to it, Johan started snapping away and swiftly forwarded the photos to one of his colleagues, Nicolas Chow. However, there was a very good reason why Johan sent the photos specifically to this person, of all people.
Sharing With an Expert
Johan knew that he would need all the expertise he could get to determine a value for the vase. This is why he sent the photos to Nicolas Chow, who is an expert in Chinese Art.
Moreover, Chow currently works as the Chairman of not just Sotheby’s in Asia, but also the company’s Chinese Works of Art department. For the last two decades, Chow has been one of the leading figures in the Chinese art market.
The Photos Blew Him Away
If anyone was going to be able to determine a price for this vase, then it would be Nicholas Chow. However, because he has seen virtually everything that the Chinese art world has to offer, there was a chance that he might be underwhelmed by the photos.
However, it turns out that he was blown away by the images. “He rang back the same day and was very excited,” Johan said. And that’s not all that Chow did.
He Immediately Flew to Holland
It turns out that it wouldn’t be enough for Johan to go to the house and for Chow to look at the images. He needed to see the vase in person as soon as possible.
So without haste, he packed his bags and booked the next flight to the Netherlands. In no time at all, he was also at the lady’s home to make his own observations. “He made his way to Europe to see the original,” Johan said.
Seal of Approval
It was just a matter of minutes before Chow could determine the number of important details about the vase. To start with, he turned the vase upside down to see if there were any markings that determined when it was made and who by.
Soon enough, Chow was able to confirm that this was actually a very important yangcai vase. Moreover, it had a seal mark that proved it could trace its origins back to the Qianlong period.
It’s a Match
Not only was Chow able to trace the vase’s origins pretty quickly, he was also able to get an idea of where the vase had been stored during its early years. The documentation matched the vase to items that were from the Chinese imperial household’s archives.
With this came a torrent of details of which hands the vase had fallen into over the years and even more interestingly, how much people had paid for it over the years.
The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase
Through cross-referencing and digging into the archives, Johan and Chow soon discovered that they had stumbled across what was known as the Harry Garner Reticulated Vase. His involvement meant that the vase could be dated as far back as 1742. Harry Garner was a famous mathematician who collected many pieces of Asian art, including this vase.
He donated numerous pieces to British museums and eventually, he sold this vase to Sotheby’s back in 1954. But it wasn’t for a fortune, by any means.
He Sold it for Just 44 Pounds
When you take into consideration that Harry Garner was happy to sell the vase in question at a Sotheby’s London auction, you would think that he would only except a hefty sum for this beautiful piece of Chinese art.
However, records showed that the collector was perfectly happy to part ways with the vessel for a mere £44 ($56). While this was certainly worth more at the time, it was still nowhere near Chow’s eventual valuation.
Sold Again One Year Later
Another fascinating detail about the vase was that it didn’t stay in the hands of Sotheby’s London for too long. In fact, it was only a year before the Chinese piece of art was once again off the market.
A company based in London called Bluett & Sons won a second auction for the vase. This time, it fetched a bigger sum of money. However, at just £80 ($101), it was still way off the vase’s current valuation.
Taken to Holland
Shortly after, the vase fell into the hands of another collector of Chinese art. The man went by the name of Henry M. Knight, a famous Dutch collector who was frequently adding to his cabinet during the 20th Century.
His collection was previously located in The Hague, one of the busier cities in the country. This explains how the vase ended up in the Netherlands. However, it doesn’t explain how it found its way to the remote house in the middle of nowhere.
Same Family for 60 Years
For the next 60 years, the vase was passed down from generation to generation in Henry M. Knight’s family and eventually made its way to the remote home in the rural Netherlands.
It is unclear whether or not the lady who most recently owned the vase was related to Knight, but it is believed that it never technically left the family. It was just a matter of time before Chow was able to come up with a valuation for the vase.
After all of the research, close inspection, and liaising with his colleagues, Nicholas Chow was ready to put his valuation on the Harry Garner Reticulated Vase.
Even Johan was shocked to hear that he decided to value the vase somewhere between 9 and 11.6 million US dollars and would eventually put it up for auction at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. It was a staggering number and one that shocked the antique world to its very foundations. But why so much?
Why Is it So Valuable?
Many wondered why the vase had such a huge price tag. Julian King, the International Specialist of Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art department, believes it is rooted in the vase’s historical significance.
“This is the ultimate trophy piece reflecting the greatness of China at the peak of its power and prosperity,” he said. While this is certainly huge praise for this piece of porcelain, King went on to explain in further detail its historical importance.
It Was Made for the Emperor
King explained that the vase had, in fact, been made for the Qianlong Emperor, who was the ruler of China from 1735 to 1796. “[It was] commissioned directly for the emperor, and we actually have a record in imperial archives, that this was delivered to the emperor in the year 1743,” he said.
In order to capture the opulence and regal nature of the Emperor in a vase, he would have needed to have hired the very best ceramist in the land.
According to Sotheby’s Asia, it is believed that this type of vase is extremely difficult to produce, with the only traces of it being produced during the seventh and eighth years of the Qianlong period.
It was the masterful ceramist Tang Ying who supervised the construction of this vase. He lived from 1682 until 1756 and was responsible for some of the most beautiful ceramic work of the time. What is amazing about the vase is that it has hardly any scratches.
The Qianlong Period
The period in which the vase was constructed was during the Qianlong period, named after the Emperor who ruled during the time. The era spanned from 1735 until 1796, meaning that the same man ruled China for a staggering six decades, which means that this was one of the longest reigns in the country’s history.
Qianlong had defeated both the Mongols and the Turks during this time and he had expanded the Chinese empire, creating what is present-day Xinjiang.
He Praised the Vase
Records also suggest that Emperor Qianlong was extremely fond of the vase in question and even gave explicit praise to its constructors. He described the vase as a masterwork and would often admire its beauty as he walked around his palace.
This is enough of a reason to explain why the vase has such a high valuation. And that’s not the only thing that indicated that the vase had a big place in the Emperor’s heart.
He Kept it in the Palace
Not only did the Emperor like to observe the vase, but he also felt like it deserved a special spot in the most important of places. He had the vase kept in Qianqinggong, also known as the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
This was a sacred place located in Beijing’s Forbidden City. It was here where he stored his finest artifacts. The fact that the vase was produced in limited amounts during these two years also raised its value considerably.
What Is on the Vase?
It’s important to understand what exactly all the fuss is about by highlighting what exactly is displayed on the vase. To start with, the porcelain has a pattern of archaic bronzes, as well as a Rococo flower design.
This is interlaced with a number of dragons, as well as numerous bat-shaped and bird-shaped motifs. But what does this all mean? One thing is for sure, nothing in this design is by accident and Sotheby’s experts understand every feature.
Layers of Chinese History
Experts were astounded by how within the vase, one could see the many layers of Chinese history inside it. “This porcelain masterpiece must appear like a culmination of centuries of ingenuity in Chinese crafts,” Sotheby’s Regina Krahl wrote.
“Its multiple associations spell ‘Glorious Past’ on so many different levels, that even for the expert viewer it takes a while to unravel them all.” She noted that everything from the interior vase to the archaic bronzes and Rococo designs scream out multiple influences in one piece of art.
Mixing the Old With the New
One detail that Sotheby’s experts found remarkable about the vase was how it managed to honor past ceramic styles while also creating something new and innovative for the time that it was made. According to Regina Krahl, it paid “homage to as many classic Chinese art styles as possible while creating a symphonic work of art in contemporary taste.”
She also noted how “its stylistic coherence, which fuses nostalgic nods to antiquity with fashionable takes on international trends of the day.”
A Rare Piece of Art
To hit home just how rare the Harry Garner Reticulated Vase in, you have to understand that only a handful of vases of this kind were constructed during a short period of time. According to Krahl, Tang only constructed nine of this kind as they were so expensive to make.
The Emperor accepted this and only permitted the commission of similar models for special occasions. So this might well and truly be one of the only vases of its kind remaining.
Now that it had a huge valuation and had been meticulously inspected, the vase would eventually be put up for auction at a Sotheby’s event in Hong Kong. The auction took place on July 11, 2020. Only a handful of Chinese art pieces were up for sale, with this being one of them.
There was no denying though that this was very much part of the main event and many people were present and calling from afar that wanted to make the vase their own.
Star of the Show
While every piece of art was beautiful and attracted a lot of bids from the crowd, there was no denying that the Harry Garner Reticulated Vase was the star of the show that day.
As the bids started flowing in from a variety of directions, the auctioneer was struggling to keep up, despite knowing that this auction could go for a while. Eventually, though, the bidding war stalled at a specific figure and the hammer finally fell, confirming the final selling price.
After a remarkable bidding war that was full of twists and turns, the vase ended up going under the hammer for a whopping $70.4 million Hong Kong dollars. This is approximately about $9 million in USD, which was within the region that Nicholas Chow had originally estimated.
In theory, this vase could be enough to pay towards a pleasant mansion in the Hollywood hills. When the auctioneer hit the hammer down, the crowd ferociously applauded and were honored to have witnessed such an epic moment.
A New Home
The person who ended up placing the winning bid chose to remain anonymous. However, many people commented on how it was amazing to see the vase get sold for what it was accurately valued at. Nicholas Chow was over the moon by the result and was watching the action every step of the way.
“It is such a great privilege for Sotheby’s to find a new home for this unique reticulated vase, a culmination of centuries of ingenuity in Chinese crafts and a masterpiece made for the Qianlong emperor,” he said.
One of a Handful
Amazingly, the vase isn’t the only one of a similar design to have sold for a lot of money in recent times. In 2010, another vase that was constructed during the Qianlong Emperor’s reign sold for more than $56 million USD.
It had previously been found in a London home when a family was moving out. Other Chinese works of art have also sold for big money, with a Wu Guangzhong painting selling for $3.1 million. Also, 10 pieces of Huanghuali furniture sold for about $21.5 million.
Other Furniture Sold
It wasn’t just the vase that sold for a huge sum during the auction in Hong Kong. While they weren’t any more ancient vases, there was a piece of furniture that ended up selling for even more, a Ming dynasty table that sold for $11 million.
Also, someone won a bidding war by purchasing a couch-bed for a cool $8 million. Then there was a blue-and-white porcelain jar that sold for just under $6 million. That too, was from the Qianlong era.
You Might Be Sitting on a Goldmine
It’s amazing to think that this vase, which sold for so much money this year, had been sitting on a cupboard, gathering dust for about 60 years. It just goes to show that you have no idea what you might be hanging on to in your attic or random rooms of the house.
If you have any inkling that something in your home is of some noteworthy value, make sure to contact an expert, they might just change your life.