Antiques Roadshow Marks Million Dollar Find

Jade carving is show's first-ever seven-figure appraisal

By Mark Morales
|  Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009  |  Updated 10:13 AM CDT
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Carved Jade from the Chien Lung dynasty can usually be found at the National Palace Museum in Taipei

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Antiques Roadshow has finally caught its "Great White Whale," a dusty family heirloom worth $1 million.

The PBS show, which goes from town to town encouraging locals to bring in musty collectibles for appraisal, had its first piece ever appraised at seven figures. While the show was being taped in Raleigh, N.C., a woman brought in a Chinese carved jade piece passed down from her father. Experts said it could garner as much as $1.7 million.

"For 13 years, we've been hoping to feature a million-dollar appraisal on 'Antiques Roadshow;' it's been our 'Great White Whale,'" said the show's executive producer, Marsha Bemko.

The million dollar antique was four pieces of jade and celadon from the Chien Lung Dynasty, which was in power from 1736 to 1795. The set includes a large bowl that was crafted for the emperor. It was passed down to her from her father, who brought the items while stationed in China during the 1930's and 1940's as a military liaison.

Asian arts appraiser James Callahan said the pieces were not made for tourists, as indicated by the fine quality and a mark at the bottom of the jade bowl that translates to "by Imperial Order."

While this is the first million dollar appraisal for the American version of the show, the BBC's version of the show turned one up last November. That piece was a scale model of Anthony Gormley's artwork, "The Angel of the North," and was appraised at $1.66 million.

The highest appraisal before the million dollar find was a 1937 painting by American Abstract Expressionist artist Clyfford Still, found in Palm Springs, California, in 2008, estimated at $500,000.

The appraisal of the Jade pieces will be seen on the next series of the show, starting on Jan. 4 on PBS.

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