Vendor of vase that fetched pounds 228,000 'faces ruin' WOMAN MUST GIVE UP THE PROCEEDS AND PAY EXPENSES.
A WOMAN who sold a Chinese vase at auction for pounds 228,000 and was then forced to pay the money to her mother-in-law revealed yesterday how the 5in-tall objet d'art has left her facing financial ruin.
Mother-of-three Andrea Calland sold the 18th-century gilt bronze and cloisonn vase, which had previously been valued at pounds 375, for the windfall sum at a Chester auction house two years ago.
But the 44-year-old freelance science tutor was ordered to pass over the windfall by a county court judge last month following an application by her estranged partner's mother.
In a two-day hearing, the court heard that her mother-in-law Evelyn Galloway, 74, only learned about the sale when she read about it in a local newspaper.
After deliberating for two hours, Judge Seys Llewellyn QC, sitting at Mold county court, concluded that Mrs Galloway had never surrendered her ownership of the vase and had been the Qianlong vase's rightful owner when it was sold.
Ms Calland was ordered to pay pounds 190,000 to her former partner's mother after the judge stressed that it was not a finding of dishonesty on the part of Ms Calland.
He found that, although the vase had been in Ms Calland's various homes for nearly two decades, she had not given enough thought to its origins and did not take reasonable steps to establish ownership.
The case cost her pounds 25,000 in legal fees and she must raise a further pounds 25,000 to cover part of Mrs Galloway's expenses, it emerged yesterday. She may also be required to pay her damages.
Ms Calland, who revealed how she may now have to sell her pink cottage in Ruthin, told a London-based newspaper: "I wish I'd never laid eyes on that vase. It's caused such unbelievable pain.
"The court case was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was so hurtful to be attacked by people I used to love. At one point, I was sobbing so much I had to get up and leave the court.
"Now I'm terrified. I've been told to increase the mortgage on the house to raise the funds but I don't think I can because I'm self-employed.
"Who would have thought that a person could lose their home as a result of selling a bit of bric-a-brac they've had lying around for years?" Mrs Galloway, of Llanbedr DC, near Ruthin, had told the hearing how her father, James Alker of Llandyrnog, had been a collector and had bought the vase at Birkenhead in 1956. She still had the catalogue from the original purchase and she was able to produce family photographs which had the vase in the background. She had it valued in the 1980s, when it was said to be worth in the hundreds, but had no idea of how its value had soared following the boom in interest in Chinese objet d'art.
The vase was crafted in the Forbidden City in the style of Ming, but more than a century after the dynasty ended. It was commissioned by the Chinese Emperor but was looted during the second opium war in 1860.
Mrs Galloway lent the vase to her son Steven Galloway in 1990 when he and Ms Calland lived in a flat in Ruthin. It went with them when they moved to a larger house, at Llanelidan, between 1994 and 1998 and later to another country house at Llanelidan, from 1998.
They had two children and they all lived together, with Ms Calland's son Steven, as a family but separated in March 2001.
Ms Calland said she had not received a solicitor's letter, a personal letter, a text or a verbal request to return the vase. She said that she had thought the vase was ugly and was selling it to raise money for a laptop.
A dealer had offered her pounds 375 in cash but she decided to try her luck at auction where the valuers put a reserve of pounds 500 on it. On sale day there were internet bidders from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and 14 phone bidders, who pushed the price up above pounds 200,000.
* The vase Andrea Calland put up for auction at Byrnes Auctioneers in Chester with a reserve of pounds 500 but which fetched pounds 228,000 * Andrea Calland at Mold county court last month