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'Never underestimating the value of objects you might have in your own home.'

Many people are not aware of the hidden treasures in their homes says Barnebys, the world’s leading search aggregator for auctions which now includes an art and collectables valuation service.

Pontus Silfverstolpe, joint founder of Barnebys, says: “A startling example is The Lost Caravaggio found in a Toulouse farmhouse attic in 2014 that will be sold in June in Toulouse on auction for an expected £100million (about R1.8billion). It’s just one example of never underestimating the value of objects you might have in your own home.”

Silfverstolpe says the case of a Buddha bronze is another example. Cleared from a home and sold cheaply at a flea market, the bronze statue of the Buddhist deity was recently auctioned in New York for more than $2m (about R28m).

The seller had bought the figure of the deity Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara about 20 years ago at a garage flea market for around $100. He took it to a TV show where it was determined it was an ancient Chinese character. At auction Sotheby’s had expected to achieve up to $80000 but the hammer fell at $2.1m.

There are also priceless books waiting to be found. Silfverstolpe says:

“The real gems to look out for include Emily Bronté’s Wuthering Heights, Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for £10.99 in 1997. Last year, the same book fetched £27370 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London. Get a qualified book dealer or auction house expert to value your books before you dump them.

“Even if the BBC Antiques Roadshow has made generations of global TV viewers aware of the value of antiques, many people do not know what they have in their homes or what they could find in car boot sales and junk shops.”

Barnebys hosts 2000 auction houses on its website and directs art collectors to appropriate auction houses.

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