From crappy claret jug to Holy Grail in one auction

The auctioneers thought it was a 19th c. French claret jug with an estimated value of a couple hundred pounds. Turns out, it’s an 11th c. Fatimid rock crystal ewer, one of only 6 known in the world.

Fatimid rock crystal ewers are considered among the rarest and most valuable objects in the entire sphere of Islamic art, with only five known to exist before this extraordinary appearance. Indeed this is the first time one has ever known to have appeared at auction. The last one to surface on the market was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1862.

It ended up selling for £200,000, which is still a ridiculous bargain give its £5,000,000 market value. There’s no comment in the article about how this piece got to auction. I’m curious to know the history.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t read to the end of the article, allow me to force you:

Disaster befell the final known ewer which was from the Pitti Palace collection in Florence and had an inscription to Caliph al Hakim’s general, Husain ibn Jawhar. For many years it had been on display in the Museo degli Argenti and in 1998 it was accidentally dropped by a museum employee, shattering it irreparably.