Bloomberg looks for an explanation about the measured bidding on top lots in Sotheby’s Hong Kong ceramics sales. Looking at the results, the big price pops are still there but mostly on lots with lower estimates.
Millionaires who have been competing for Chinese art held back from bidding on an Imperial vase and other premium lots after they were told that they needed to deposit $8 million in advance and prove their ability to comply with a 30-day payment period.
“There was a lot of guarded bidding on some of the top lots,” Sotheby’s said in an e-mailed news release. William Qian, a London-based dealer who won eight lots, said “a lot of hot money from China and elsewhere couldn’t come in.”
Faced with examples of Chinese bidders failing to honor their commitments–the £53m Bainbridge vase was an obvious warning but also the failure of a bidder to pay for the Zodiac-clock heads in the Saint Laurent/Bergé sale–Sotheby’s created a category of premium lots that required additional assurances from bidders.
During the Contemporary Art sales, at least one bidder was repeatedly refused because of a failure to complete the registration process. On that work, the disappointed bidder would have been the top bid.