FOUND > Garage Sale 'Buddha' Worth $100,000

Bought on Second-Day of Sale for $100

Rare 15th century Buddha found at garage sale.

March 9, 2018
By Ruthie Bowles, Contributing Author for What Sells Best News

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - Antiques Roadshow reports that a 15th-century Bronze Buddha Statue, purchased for approximately $100 at a garage sale, is estimated to be worth $100,000 to $125,000.


A guest on the Antiques Roadshow in St. Louis brought in a lovely gilt bronze statue that appeared to be of Far East origin. She recalls “I almost didn't have a chance to acquire it, because I was having 15 people for lunch.” Despite her demanding social obligation, she managed to rush to the garage sale of a well-known local to snag the small statue.

Upon hearing her story the Antiques Roadshow appraiser, Robert Waterhouse of PKR Antiques and Fine Art, expressed surprise that the dealers managed to miss the statue, despite having combed through the available items for two days. He remarked on the “beautiful drapery” of the statue’s robes, and that the statue exhibits features noted in early bodhisattva art, like the slender waist.

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Most notably in regards to dating the statue, Waterhouse said “Royal Ease [the statue’s position] is really a characteristic of very early Buddhist art. The dating would be approximately early 15th century, or early Ming Dynasty.” The quality of the statue shows that it was likely commissioned from a Chinese imperial workshop, but without the inscription that was on the now missing base, he can’t be sure.

Despite a missing hand and arm, Waterhouse tells the unbelieving guest that her statue is worth $100,000 to $125,000 conservatively, making her quick garage sale run 20 years ago all the more worth it.


President Xi Jinping places protecting and preserving China’s heritage and culture near the top of his list of priorities. Thanks to China’s 30-year economic growth, there are many native wealthy collectors competing for a chance to retake symbols of their heritage.


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