Asian Art Auctions In New York Far Exceed Estimates

$3.3 Million Chinese Wine Vessel Is Most Expensive Item At New York Asia Art Week Auctions

This Chinese wine vessel sold for $3.3 million in New York, well over its $400,000-700,000 pre-sale estimate

This Chinese wine vessel sold for $3.3 million in New York, well over its $400,000-700,000 pre-sale estimate

Earlier this month, Jing Daily reported on New York Asian Art Week, where we said observers should expect to see patriotic “new collectors” from India and China looming large. Over the past few years, Chinese collectors in particular have developed a reputation for selective blindness when it comes to pre-sale estimates, willing to buy certain objects for many times their expected price at auction. If the results of this Asian Art Week are any indication, it looks like that reputation isn’t going anywhere soon.

Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s reported totals far beyond estimates, with combined sales totaling around $50 million, about $27 million of that coming from Sotheby’s and around $20 million from Christie’s. The remainder of sales were recorded by nearly a dozen other galleries and auction houses that held sales and exhibitions this week.

From Reuters:

“This week’s sale saw enthusiastic bidding and strong prices across a range of different categories from porcelain and jades, to furniture and paintings,” said Dr. Caroline Schulten, Sotheby’s head of Chinese works of art.

“Collectors from around the world often raised the bidding to multiples of the high estimate in order to secure the very best works,” said added in a statement.

A Christie’s spokesman said their online record for the wine vessel adorned with a dragon surpassed the previous record for an item sold in an online sale in 2008 when $1.27 million was paid for a Stradivari violin.

Theow H. Tow, the deputy chairman of Christie’s America, said the small vessel still had “residual millet wine solidified in the bottom.”

Christie’s next highest selling piece, a ritual food vessel from the 10th century BC changed hands for nearly $3 million.

Tow said that bronze pieces are particularly valuable.

“Bronze work is an indispensable section in the development history of ancient China, symbolizing the advanced civilization and embodying the social hierarchy,” he explained in an interview. “Bronzes were predominantly made for the wealthier class to begin with, the material being rare and expensive.”

Look for the potent mixture of patriotism and economic means to drive “new collectors” from China to continue their buying spree next month, at upcoming events like Sotheby’s Contemporary Asian Art auction, set to be held in Hong Kong on October 4.


Art & Design, Market Analysis