Chinese Artefacts Attract Massive Prices – artmarketblog.com

Chinese Artefacts Attract Massive Prices – artmarketblog.com

Chinese famille rose bowl - Sold for $115,000 against a $300 estimate at Brunk Auctions

Chinese famille rose bowl - Sold for $115,000 against a $300 estimate at Brunk Auctions

I don’t think that many people, except maybe the Chinese, realise how much wealth exists in China as well as other areas of Asia.  The last few weeks have produced many examples of the unjustifiably massive amounts of money that are being paid for objects of Chinese decorative art by wealthy Chinese collectors.  Take, for instance, the AU$32,000 paid for a Chinese carved wooden panel by a Chinese collector at an Australian auction which had an original estimate of AU$600.  How about the US$58,400 achieved at an iGavel.com online auction for a large modern Chinese carved celadon jade phoenix form vase against an estimate of only US$1200 -$1800 – a huge amount for what was identified by iGavel as a modern piece with no real historical or provenencial value.

Christie’s Asian Art Week produced even more astonishing results that really do make one question the motivation of the buyers, as well as their sanity.  How much disposable wealth would one have to have to pay US$1,426,500 for a Chinese Zitan stand and cover that was originally estimated to sell for between US$20,000 and $30,000.  Yes, it is a very rare object, but paying almost one and a half million dollars for it when it was valued at around one sixtieth of that amount seems ridiculous.  Almost as crazy was the US$362,000 paid for a Chinese bronze ritual food vessel that also had a US$20,000-$30,000 estimate.

Over at North Carolina USA based Brunk Auctions (http://www.brunkauctions.com/), two Chinese items fetched well over (actually massively over!!) their estimate.  The first, a small Chinese porcelain bowl (see image), went for an amazing US$115,000 against an estimate of US$300, and a Chinese vase soared to US$105,800 against a US$4000 estimate.

A VERY RARE IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ZITAN STAND AND COVER sold by Christies for $1,426,500 against an estimate of $20,000 - 30,000

A VERY RARE IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ZITAN STAND AND COVER sold by Christies for $1,426,500 against an estimate of $20,000 - 30,000

A sale price for an item at auction that massively exceeds the estimate is usually put down to an incorrect appraisal by the auction house – as long as it is an isolated incident.  The sheer number of Chinese items of decorative art that are selling for prices well above their appraised value could not be all the result of incorrect valuation or assessment.  So what is driving the market for these objects to such dizzying heights?.  I suspect that pride and status have a significant role to play.  No disrespect to Asian men, but they do tend to be very proud and do not like to be beaten.  There is also the bragging rights that paying ridiculous amounts of money for an object can bring. Yes, some of the objects being purchased are rare but not rare enough to justify the prices being paid.   I can’t help but think back to the art market boom of the late 80’s, early 90’s, when wealthy Japanese business men drove the market for Impressionist works of art into the stratosphere.   Quality was not of great concern to these Japanese buyers who were more interested in art as a status symbol than anything else.  I suspect that we are seeing a similar situation at the moment with wealthy Chinese buyers and Chinese artefacts.

China is undoubtedly a source of great wealth and appears to not have been as severely affected by the global financial crisis as the USA or England. There appears to be a large number of wealthy Chinese buyers who have enough disposable income to make completely unjustifiable and quite frankly absurd purchases. One cannot help but predict that China will continue to become an even strong force on the global market for art and fine objects in the near future. Be wary though, such wealth and careless spending is a recipe for super inflated prices.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Asian Decorative Arts Fever at iGavel – artmarketblog.com

Asian Decorative Arts Fever at iGavel – artmarketblog.com

Chinese Imperial Bamboo Brushpot, 18th c.

Chinese Imperial Bamboo Brushpot, 18th c.

Recent results from auctions of Asian art conducted by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong show that there is high demand for modern and contemporary Asian art and that there are plenty of Asian buyers with plenty of money to spend. Also proving popular are Asian decorative arts, Asian antique decorative cultural objects and ethnographic works of art, the best of which are in very high demand at the moment as is evident by the success achieved by iGavel (http://www.igavel.com) with their recent online auctions of such items. In fact, the prices being achieved by iGavel are astonishing. Take, for instance, an auction conducted by iGavel in March where a pair of large Chinese porcelain panels sold for US$16,000 (hammer price) against an estimate of US$500-$1000 and a Sino-Tibetan gilt bronze buddha made US$11,000 against an estimate of US$500.00 to 800.00. In April, an Antiques, Asian & Tribal auction produced even more astounding results with one of the top lots, a Chinese 17th/18th c. parcel gilt & polychromed iron seated figure of an immortal, selling for US$38,500 after 44 bids against an estimate of US$5000-7000. Also selling for many times their estimates were:
– A Chinese gilt decorated archaic style bronze water buffalo-form incense burner which sold for US$28,000 against an estimate of US$1000-1500
– A Chinese carved pale green jade teapot circa 18th which sold for US$19,900 against an estimate of US$3000-5000

Chinese White Jade Figure of Buddha

Chinese White Jade Figure of Buddha

The May Asian, Ancient and Ethnographic Works of Art sale saw iGavel raise the bar even higher when a record price of US$105,010 (US$126,012.00 including premium) against an estimate of $80,000-$120,000 was paid for an amazing recently rediscovered Chinese 18th c. imperial bamboo brushpot that had been mounted as a lamp. Fierce competition saw the starting price of $7500 rapidly rise with a total of 51 bids being taken before a new buyer was found. Lark Mason, the founder of iGavel and an Asian art expert, was responsible for the identification of the brushpot which depicts the cultivation of cotton. It took 40 bids to decide a new owner for a modern gilt bronze figure of Maitreya which sold for US$21,000 against an estimate of US$3000-5000 and 21 bids for a Chinese 18th/19th c. White Jade Figure of Buddha, formerly of the Pan-Asian Collection, which reached US$13,500 against an estimate of US$2000-3000. Other exception results included:

-A set of ten modern Chinese celadon jade zodiac figures which sold for US$10,000 against an estimate of US$700-$900
-A 19th c. Chinese porcelain flambe glazed bottle vase which sold for US$8610 against an estimate of US$800-$1200
-A 20th C. Chinese spinach jade tripod censer and cover which sold for US$6500 against an estimate of US$500-$800
-A 20th C. Chinese carved green jade vase and cover which sold for US$5000 against an estimate of US$400-$600

According to iGavel, mainland Chinese buyers dominated the bidding which suggests that there is a high demand in China for objects that have cultural or historical significance for the Chinese and that there is plenty of money in China to purchase these items. Buying back objects of cultural and historical significance that have been taken out of the country appears to be high on the agenda for Chinese collectors in the same way that the Russian collectors started buying back their heritage a few years ago. It is encouraging to see that the global financial crisis appears to have not affected the market for art in the Asia region as much as many would have predicted and that buyers are showing an interest in a wide range of objects from the contemporary to the classical.

It is great to see that buyers are willing to spend so much money online via iGavel, a reflection perhaps of iGavel’s focus on quality and authenticity. The success that iGavel has had with their auctions of Asian art may be partly due to buyers in Asia being able to purchase items online all of which have guarantees for authenticity and condition. Also adding to the legitimacy of the items being offered for sale by iGavel is the fact that the founder of iGavel, Lark Mason, is a highly respected expert in the Asian Art field known to many from his appearances in the PBS series, The Antiques Roadshow. All in all, iGavel should be congratulated for the success that they achieve with their online auctions.

For more information on iGavel visit http://www.igavel.com
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Effects of the Correction on Emerging Art Markets – artmarketblog.com

Effects of the Correction on Emerging Art Markets – artmarketblog.com

The most speculative and volatile markets over the last four years, emerging art markets have propelled a number of Chinese, Indian, Russian and Middle-Eastern contemporary artists into the global limelight with extraordinary speed. But with so many young artists fetching such big figures at auctions, some kind of meltdown was inevitable.

The first consequences of the global financial crisis on the art market were felt in Hong Kong in 2008 at the Christie’s and Sotheby’s October sales. Indeed, China’s art market has proved to be particularly sensitive and thousands of art market professionals are keenly watching developments in that country where the price index of contemporary art rose 583% between January 2004 and January 2009.

In 2007, driven by the financial strength of Hong Kong and the dynamism of Shanghai, China took third place on the global art market podium behind the United States and the United Kingdom. The rocketing price indices of Fanzhi ZENG, Xiaogang ZHANG, Lijun FANG, Minjun YUE, Guoqiang CAI and Guangyi WANG fuelled an unprecedented optimism, inspiring thousands of would-be artists across the country, prompting hundreds of new gallery openings and giving a very substantial boost to the Chinese art auction market. Just when our figures showed that one third of the world’s top 100 contemporary artists (ranked by auction revenue) were from China, Bonhams decided to set up shop in Hong Kong (26 November 2007) alongside Christie’s and Sotheby’s who were already well established on the island. After Bonhams, Artcurial decided to head East with a first sale in Shanghai in January 2008. The following month in London, Sotheby’s was unable to sell Overwhelm by Minjun YUE, despite his leading position on the contemporary Chinese art scene. At the time, this was a rare event: only 9 paintings by the artist were bought in over 10 years (between 1997 and 2007). In 2008, the number was 12 …

After the record bought-in rates posted in October at Sotheby’s and Christie’s Hong Kong, the November and December sales confirmed the contraction of demand and the choosiness of buyers. Sales have not been frozen, but we are definitely seeing a sharp correction of the Chinese art market. Collectors are now being extremely selective both in terms of quality and price. Numerous works by the stars whose prices had risen too high (e.g. Lijun FANG, Minjun YUE, Xiaogang ZHANG and Fanzhi ZENG) sold below their low estimates or were bought in. The recent failure of an attempted quick sale of a painting by Xiaogang ZHANG at Est-Ouest Auctions Co. Hongkong drew a definitive veil over the speculative mood. The work in question is a portrait from the Big Family Series. Initially selling for CNY 8.5 million (USD 1.15 million) in November 2007, it failed to sell in December 2008 even after a substantial trim of its estimate (roughly USD 554,000).

The stars of contemporary Indian art are in more or less the same boat. Despite a 957% increase in the price index between January 2004 and January 2009, more than half of Subodh GUPTA’s works offered from October to December 2008 were bought in. His important work Vehicle for Seven Seas III was bought in on 13 November, 2008 in New York despite carrying a reasonable price estimate (300,000 to 400,000) compared to the USD 625,000 that a work from the same series fetched in April 2008 (Artcurial, Paris, EUR 425,000). We find the same scenario in the field of Iranian art where nearly half the works offered for public sale by Farhad MOSHIRI (1963) have remained unsold. Back in March 2008, collectors at the Dubaï sales were a lot more extravagant, pushing up the price of Eshgh (Love) to USD 900,000, which was six times the estimated price (Bonhams).

The February Contemporary Art sales in London timidly propose 2 to 5 Chinese and Indian star attractions at Sotheby’s (5 February) and Christie’s (11 February), including the unavoidable Fanzhi ZENG and Anish KAPOOR. However, the real test will be in March and April 2009 with sales dedicated to Asian art. On 12 February, Phillips de Pury & Company will be offering works by six Chinese artists, one Korean (Kim Whanki), two Indians (Hema UPADHYAY and Jiten & Sumir THUKRAL & TAGRA) and one Pakistani (Rashid RANA). Phillip’s is also participating in the emergence of the African artist El ANATSUI whose 2006 work entitled Congress of Elders is expected to fetch around GBP 200,000. Almost a complete stranger to the secondary art market, a work by this artist entitled Healer fetched USD 500,000 at Sotheby’s London in October 2008… not the most favourable period for generating a new record…

Still buoyant throughout the first half of 2008, demand on these highly dynamic new markets has substantially contracted since the autumn. In a global crisis context, many works have become too expensive and speculative temptations are no longer on the agenda. Nevertheless, among the major buyers of contemporary Russian, Chinese, Korean, Indian or Iranian art, profit is often not the primary motive. In recent years, many Russian and Chinese collectors have invested in the works of their compatriots in order to build coherent collections for foundations or museums.

Copyright@Artprice.com

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.