Bloomberg covers London’s Asian art sales:
Sotheby’s was one of three auction houses and nearly 50 commercial galleries offering works during the 11th annual Asian Art in London, running through Nov. 12. The event came at a time when losses on the world’s stock markets and contracting economic growth have begun to reduce sales of Asian art. [ . . . ]
[Sotheby’s] 341-lot sale fetched 3.3 million pounds with fees, with 67 percent of the material finding buyers. No work sold for more than 200,000 pounds. [ . . . ]
“There is still demand for high-quality works, but at a price,” said Giuseppe Eskenazi, whose Mayfair gallery specializes in Chinese art. He said at the moment collectors were hesitant to pay more than 200,000 pounds for pieces. “They know that prices may well fall over the next six months and they’re prepared to wait,” said Eskenazi, who added that collectors were also aware that the pound was sliding in value against other currencies.
Christie’s 258-lot auction fetched 5.3 million pounds with fees against a pre-sale estimate of 3.3 million pounds to 4.8 million pounds. Sixty-eight percent of the material successfully found buyers.
“People have become more selective,” said Christie’s London-based Chinese art specialist Ruben Lien. “Things need to have a good provenance because buyers are scared of fakes. And they have to be sensibly estimated. Sellers are going to have to be more flexible.”
Lien said that the strengthening value of the renminbi against sterling had encouraged Chinese buying at this London auction. “Around 30 percent of the material went to mainland Chinese buyers, 10 percent up on last year,” said Lien. “We’re seeing new buyers from China, and existing Chinese clients are upgrading their collections.”
Auctioneers and dealers said it was difficult to sell routine-quality items in the current environment. On Nov. 6, Bonhams held an auction of 358 lots of Chinese art, mostly priced at less than 20,000 pounds.