Mystery surrounds Chinese painting that fetched £5,000 at Wellingborough auction after it was valued at... £40

The painting is one of the highest selling lots in the last 20 years of the auctioneers' history
The painting is one of the highest selling lots in the last 20 years of the auctioneers' history

A Wellingborough auctioneer is waiting to find out more about an oriental artwork that sold for £5,000... more than 100 times higher than what it was expected to fetch.

Wilfords Auctioneers, in Midland Road, valued the landscape painting at around £30 to £40 before a Chinese buyer, who is making their way to Northamptonshire to collect the piece, won the lot with a £5,000 bid.

Wilfords hope a translation of the painting's inscriptions will help shed light on its origins and particular significance to its new owner

Wilfords hope a translation of the painting's inscriptions will help shed light on its origins and particular significance to its new owner

The price makes it one of the highest selling lots in the last 20 years of the auctioneers' history.

"We don't know who the painter is but we know they are renowned in China for being involved with the royals," said company director Natasha D'Amore.

"The language barrier has made it hard to find out more."

She added: "We did have a diamond ring that sold for £4,800 but that was expected and we do sell into the thousands regularly - but the highest bid in my time was £2,000."

This inscription is believed to be the artist's signature

This inscription is believed to be the artist's signature

The artwork almost didn't go under the hammer in the first place after Wilfords picked it up while clearing the house of a woman moving to New Zealand.

Mrs D'Amore said the painting's wooden frame saved it from being lumped into the job lot or cast aside.

The Chinese buyer won the painting, which depicts a waterfall scene, after a 15-minute auction that reached 161 bids in total.

"We usually do hundreds of lots in an hour," said Mrs D'Amore.

"The bidding started and we had people in the room drop out in the early thousands.

"Things do go for over hundreds of pounds a lot of the time, but when this one reached £500, it made us think maybe it wasn't what we thought it was."

Natasha and her team are eager to discover more about the mysterious artwork and are hopeful they will know more once they have met its new owner.