The piece in question a 15 3/4in (40cm) Joseon dynasty jar, which dates from c.1800, is painted in underglaze blue with the bearded figure of the mountain spirit San Shin. He is shown here plucking the tail of a fluidly drawn tiger on the reverse and is very similar in style to a vase in the Osaka Museum.
The jar was discovered by Bonhams' Asian art director Dessa Goddard in an appraisal day held by the auctioneers in Los Angeles. It had been in Southern California for several decades but had come by direct descent from the collection of Mrs Fiske Warren of Boston Massachusetts. She came from a Boston family who made their money in the paper industry and probably acquired the jar on one of her trips to the Far East in the 1890s.
The Korean market can be very unpredictable, but in this instance more than a dozen clients in the room and on the phone were prepared to do battle for the jar and it soon left its $200,000-300,000 estimate behind.
Once it reached the $2m mark, however, it became a two-way contest between a man in the room and the successful Asian telephone bidder who secured it at $3.7m (£2.64m) plus premium.