NEW YORK—The fall Asian art sales in New York ending last week proved again that fine Chinese works are in high demand by collectors and that the Asian art field is driving the art market.
The biggest auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, brought in a combined total of over $90 million, well over both the rivals pre-sale estimates of around $30 million.
Sotheby’s reported $46 million from its three sales, while Christie’s total sales reached $44.7 million from five sales. Categories covered Japanese, Korean, Indian, Southeast Asian, and Chinese art and artifacts.
“There was global participation, reflecting a world-wide demand for the greatest objects of Asian art,” Christie’s chairman and international head of Asian art, Jonathan Stone, said in a statement.
Talking about the sector’s ongoing strength in a report before the sales, Stone told Reuters, “Christie’s sales turnover enjoyed by Asian art worldwide has more than doubled in the last five years.”
Occasionally, Asian art has even overshadowed the usually predominant impressionist and modern categories. Henry Howard-Sneyd, vice chairman of Asian art at Sotheby’s, spoke to Reuters of the clear growth of the Asian art market since 2006, especially in mainland China.
Sotheby’s boasts its Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale results. Howard-Sneyd said the impressive $27 million sale is “a good indicator of the continuing international demand for the very best Chinese art.”
The search for great works to sell at auction can bring out some rare treasures from unusual places. A rare blue-and-white moonflask from the Ming Dynasty was discovered in a Long Island home—being used as a doorstop.
The former doorstop fetched $1.3 million in Sotheby’s Chinese sale after being estimated to go for $600,000 to $900,000.
The top price paid at Sotheby’s for the week was for an imperial jade seal from the Qing Dynasty, the Qianlong period, which sold for $3.5 million, well over the high estimate of $1.2 million.
The ink hand scroll “Seclusion Amid Mountains and Streams,” from Sotheby’s China, sale soared to nearly five times the estimate, selling for $3.2 million.
Buddhist art also sold well. A gilt-bronze figure of Buddha from the Northern Wei Dynasty doubled the pre-sale estimate to sell for $1.3 million, and the nearly 2,000-year-old limestone head of a Bodhisattva from the early Tang Dynasty sold for just under $1 million—over 10 times the $40,000 to $60,000 estimate.
Christie’s top sales include $3.2 million paid for an 18th century blue-and-white dragon jar from the Korean Joseon Dynasty; Hasegawa Tonin’s screens “Egrets and Ducks in a Winter Landscape,” which sold for $626,500; a thangka (Tibetan silk painting with embroidery) of the Green Tara that sold for $1.8 million, a world auction record for a Tibetan painting; and an archaic bronze zun (ritual wine vessel) from China, 12th–10th century B.C., that went for $1.4 million.
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