For all the talk of Chinese interest in works of art, the final bidder left on the top lot at Christie’s Imperial Works of Art sale this weekend was a Brit, as Bloomberg‘s Le-Min Lim tells us:
London dealer Richard Littleton wrested the Buddhist figure, bearing the mark of Ming-era Emperor Xuande, from at least three other Chinese bidders yesterday after rebuffing his last rival seated across the aisle with a HK$70 million ($9 million) offer, against host Christie’s International’s estimate of HK$30 million.
“It’s a very reasonable price for such a rare piece,” said Littleton, in an interview at the saleroom. “I’m confident it will be a very good investment.”
[…] “That foreign fellow really knows his antiques,” said Feng Liu, a New York-based Chinese dealer who watched Littleton bid from the back of the saleroom. “That’s why he got that bronze statue at such a good price; he knows what he’s doing.”
Littleton says the Chinese buyer remains a formidable art- auction opponent.
“Look around the room: a few years ago, only 50 percent were Chinese. These days, it’s more like 90 percent,” Littleton said, after bidding for a ceramic piece. “Occasionally, we manage to slip through with a purchase like this.”