Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of March 17-23:
Coming off a stellar year in the Asian art market, which saw records fall at international auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s and emerging regional powers like China Guardian, all eyes are on Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Asian art auction in Hong Kong, set to hit the city on April 2. Following up last autumn’s Contemporary Asian Art auction series, which pulled in HKD227.8 million (US$29.2 million), the highest-ever various-owner sale in the category at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, the upcoming spring auction in Hong Kong will include historical pieces expected to go for millions as well as lower-priced lots that should prove popular with China’s emerging new collector.
A relatively new transplant to Hong Kong, French entrepreneur Cedric Delzenne has wasted no time in making himself at home since relocating to the bustling city in 2010. Disappointed by the stifling effect high Hong Kong rents have had on individual fashion designers, and the scattered nature of the city’s shops, Delzenne set up the online store Shop des Createurs to serve as a central, virtual fashion “boutique” and offer a hand-picked collection of designers from Hong Kong and around the world. Rather than holding inventory, Shop des Createurs displays the latest creations from its curated roster of designers from places as far-flung as Paris, Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, operating as a marketplace on behalf of the designers and shipping directly to buyers. Available in two languages (French/English) and four currencies, the secure site currently stocks nearly 30 designers from eight countries.
We’ve made no mystery of our love for the Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia, which is set to launch its second “Culture Object” exhibition in Shanghai next month, and its very un-traditional use of traditional Chinese materials in its apparel, furniture and jewelry collections. With its new “Wish” (随意) poker set, Shang Xia’s signature combination of form and function is on full display, bringing together a hand-carved zitan wood box engraved with the brand’s logo and playing cards featuring exclusive designs by the Chinese artist Lin Xi.
Handsomely encased in the zitan hardwood box, which is collector-worthy to begin with, Lin Xi’s playing cards are the star of the show. Replacing the traditional suits with distinctly Chinese symbols like bodhi leaves, red peaches and taihu (scholar’s) rocks, Lin’s watercolors inject the same playfulness into the set that we saw last year in Shang Xia’s impossible-to-get mahjong case.
In a development rumored since last October to take place some time in 2012, the American luxury retail group Neiman Marcus is finally set to kick off its China expansion with a US$28 million investment in the privately held e-commerce company Glamour Sales Holding. As Jing Daily noted last year, Neiman Marcus has been researching the rapidly growing (but increasingly crowded) China luxury e-commerce market aggressively over the past year, with the company dispatching teams to “investigate both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce opportunities” in the country. However, Neiman Marcus will, for the time being, hold off on the physical locations, instead focusing on e-commerce in China and accommodating the “influx” of outbound Chinese tourists that Executive VP Neva Hall recently noted at her stores in Hawaii, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas.
Discussing her company’s non-controlling investment in Glamour Sales Holding, Neiman Marcus Group President and CEO, Karen Katz, said this week that the move is being made to make the company an “international brand,” adding, “Our strategic investment in Glamour Sales gives us a tremendous partner and a strong foothold in a rapidly expanding luxury market.”
With top historical lots by blue-chip Chinese contemporary artists regularly selling in the millions of dollars, not every aspiring bidder can afford to pack his or her collection with the rarest pieces by Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun or Liu Ye. Following up our “top classic lots to watch” post on Monday, here are our “top lots for the new collector.” Still focusing on blue-chip artists, these lots will likely remain comparatively attainable at the Sotheby’s auction on April 2, even though particular pieces may find favor with visiting mainland Chinese collectors and see final hammer prices far above high estimates.