Singapore’s Small Sales Disappoint Amid Financial Panic
Indonesian Art is a Bright Spot
Local auctions held during the ArtSingapore fair were not big money affairs but they were part of a bid to win the Asian art market to Singapore. Altogether, the sales brought in less than $10 million, less than 2/3 of the estimates. John Andreas, founder of one of the houses, Borobodur, gave Bloomberg his observations:
The day before the auctions began, Singapore announced its economy had slipped into a recession and the MSCI Asia Pacific stocks index fell 6.9 percent, capping its worst week since the measure was created in 1987.
Sales of Chinese contemporary art were weakest, with only about 40 percent of lots finding buyers, Andreas said. Works by top Chinese artists have risen tenfold or more in the past decade, making them the most expensive in Asia.
“The financial crisis does not affect the Southeast Asian art as much, but for the Chinese artists it is very bad,” said Andreas. “For the artists that have not gone up so high, the demand is still strong.”
The weekend auctions took place during the four-day ArtSingapore fair, Southeast Asia’s biggest, which ended yesterday. The event drew 110 galleries from 16 countries, with a special emphasis on art from India and South Korea. About S$80 million of art was offered, the organizer said.
Stallholders at the sale echoed the mood at the auctions, with sub-S$20,000 works from South and Southeast Asia more popular with buyers than higher-priced Chinese works.