A guest on Antiques Roadshow got the surprise of a lifetime when she brought in a crate of Tiffany vases her aunt had purchased during the Great Depression. For starters, the woman couldn’t believe how much the crate alone was worth.
Appraiser Arlie Sulka said, "The crate, in a retail setting, this is something for Tiffany geeks everywhere—collectors, museums, they would actually be very excited about this, and it would be worth between $5,000 and $10,000.” “Holy cow,” the woman reacted. The crate was actually worth more than the pastel glass vase, which was appraised at $2,000 to $3,000.
The surprises kept on coming. The paperweight glass vase, which the woman thought would be valued between $8,000 and $10,000 was actually worth between $50,000 and $75,000. But the rarest of the vases was something Sulka had been waiting to see.
"This is the piece I was waiting for for 20 years,” Sulka said. “And what I can tell you is, every night before the Roadshow, people would always say, ‘What is on your wish-list? What would you like to come in to the show tomorrow?’ And I always say, 'A Tiffany lava vase.’ And that's what this is. It’s extremely special.”
She said a similar vase has been on display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France since 1906. The estimated value of the piece the woman brought in: $100,000 to $150,000 retail. The value of all four items, including the crate, was $157,000 to $238,000.