Chinese hardwood chair – €2.6m (£2.28m) at Nagel.

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As in previous sales, the focus of June 21-22 was very much on Chinese works of art.

Among the furniture was a 2ft 11in (89cm) high folding horseshoe-back chair, made of hardwood and dated in the auction catalogue to the Qing Dynasty, which could mean anything from 1644-1912.

Little could be said about the provenance, other than that it came from a European collection that had been amassed between 1960-90.

Eagle eyes

The guide of €10,000-15,000 made it seem a run-of-the mill piece. As it turned out the chair was far from that – keen eyes recognised the source of the motifs carved on the backrest.

The upper section depicted a mountainous landscape with a house, the lower part a finely carved relief of a tree in a landscape.

These scenes could apparently be traced to a 14th century painting from the Yuan Dynasty, which belonged to the Imperial collection and is now housed in the Palace Museums in Beijing.

The chair itself was in fact from the late Ming Dynasty: late 16th-early 17th century.

Predominantly Chinese bidders in the room and on the phones pushed the price ever upwards. When the bidding passed the million-euro mark, numerous Asian spectators in the room gathered round the chair, taking photographs and selfies in a flurry of flashlights.

This did nothing to deter the two remaining contenders, both Chinese, who slogged it out until the hammer fell at €2.6m (£2.28m), accompanied by frenetic applause.

According to the auctioneers, the buyer is a very prominent collector of furniture from mainland China.