Maharaja Vase on the Move

By Louise Irvine

The world’s largest Doulton vase has been on the move again! Visitors to WMODA in Dania Beach will remember the monumental vase decorated with a profusion of exotic blooms in the reception area. Now, the giant vase has been reassembled in the entrance of the new museum in Hollywood. Moving it was quite a challenge as it measures 76 inches tall, 36 inches in diameter, and weighs in the region of 500 pounds.

The iconic vase was made for the Maharaja of Baroda, a wealthy Indian prince, who traveled to London regularly on shopping trips during the 1890s. He visited Doulton’s showrooms on the Albert Embankment where he ordered many fine examples of Lambeth Faience ware to furnish his new palace in India. Publicity photos in the Doulton archive show some of his purchases and the two largest vases, which were painted by Miss Florence Lewis, are now at WMODA. Another version of the Maharaja vase was sent to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and is now in the collection of the Museum of Science and Industry.

The massive Maharaja vase appeared at Christie’s London auction house in 1986 having been discovered in an East Anglian country house estate. It sold for a world record price of £31,668 to an anonymous bidder, the equivalent of $125,000 in US dollars today. Many years later, it was revealed that the vase had crossed the Atlantic after being purchased by the late Warner Le Roy, who owned the Tavern on the Green in Central Park, New York.

Arthur Wiener, the founder of WMODA, acquired the Maharaja vase in 2011 at Skinner’s auction house in Boston. For a few years, it was displayed in his Hamptons home alongside other Doulton masterpieces before moving to his new museum in Florida. The move from New York was a major undertaking by Arron Rimpley and his auction house team as it takes at least four men to lift the main body of the vase after it has been detached from the neck and the foot.

In January, Richard Moreno’s team of specialty packers built custom boxes for the move and strapped them to a pallet so that the vase could come out of the sky door on the second floor of the Dania building. Carl Bongiavanni brought it down to ground level with his triple stack forklift and transported it on his 18-wheeler truck to its new Hollywood home. On the last day of the move, the WMODA team carefully unpacked all the parts of the vase only to discover that the body would not fit through the interior doorway to its new location! Undaunted, four strong men lifted the body of the vase onto a flatbed cart and wheeled the vase out the double doors at the back of the building and around the block to the double doors at the front.

Not surprisingly, the sight of a priceless antique vase being walked along the road caused a stir with passing traffic. It was a nerve-wracking experience and there was an audible sigh of relief as the two handles were re-attached and the vase was safely in place. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Hollywood soon to admire the Maharaja vase in its new home.

Read more about the Maharaja Vase.

A Tale of Two Vases

The Maharaja Vase

Watch the video below showing the Maharaja vase on the move.