Asia Week Sales in Hong Kong Have Substantial Unsold Lots;
But Record Prices Are Still Set for Many Contemporary Asian Artists
Bloomberg and Reuters have results from the Asian contemporary sales where only 60% of the lots found buyers. Collectors were picky but not stingy. Some of the works that did sell made prices dramatically above high estimates. The Evening sale of Contemporary Asian art brought in HK$117,117,500 ($15 million) with I Nyoman Masriadi selling for HK$4,820,000 ($615,000) and Wang Yidong beating the high estimate. Indonesians Agus Suwage, Affandi and Handiwirman Saputra and Filipino Ronald Ventura also set artist records. Liu Ye came in toward the top of the estimate range.
The results are being pegged to fears caused by the Lehman bankruptcy but a better causal chain would be the dramatic week in the American capitol when Congress struggled to provide leadership in the financial crisis. The sales take place amid a growing concern that next week will bring another dramatic turn of events. The uncertainty won’t be resolved until after Sotheby’s sales conclude, if then.
Bloomberg reports on the level of anxiety in the Asian art market: “Sotheby’s sale of 20th-century Chinese art fetched HK$35 million ($4.5 million) with 35.4 percent of the 110 lots sold.”
But the sale of Contemporary Chinese Art, with 102 of 121 lots sold or 84%, which brought in HK$ 90,519,250 ($11.5 million) or a substantial portion of the evening sale’s total, suggests the Chinese market still has a strong appetite.
BBC News has this quote from Hiscox’s Charles Dupplin: “Although one poor sale result is not enough to announce a market downturn, this to me is evidence that even the art market can be credit crunched. Everyone will be watching the forthcoming sales and art fairs with heightened interest.”