It’s sometimes hard to tell when you see something reported in the press that doesn’t seem quite right whether the fault lies with the reporter or the source. Here’s a case in point from Reuters, looking at a new auction house holding sales in Hong Kong:
Seoul Auction will hold its 2009 Hong Kong autumn sales on Wednesday, comprising 93 artworks, with an estimated value of close to $12 million, including works by Damien Hirst, Cy Twombly, China’s Sanyu and Andy Warhol.
All well and good but when the Reuters reporter speaks to the auction house’s leader, we begin to get some quotes that either show Mr. Lee’s naivete or the reporters lack of knowledge:
Jun Lee, who heads Seoul Auction Co Ltd, said he has seen strong demand from Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea at previews and sales, with more people buying art as an investment.
“We started from a point of view: Let’s do what Sotheby’s and Christie’s are not doing. That is post-war contemporary arts,” Lee, whose house was founded by top South Korean gallery operator Gana Art Gallery, told Reuters. “It’s uncharted territory,” said the 20-year art market veteran.
To suggest that Sotheby’s and Christie’s have ignored post-war contemporary art is odd. Not to mention the fact that the region also has real competition from Singapore’s auction houses who also make a market in contemporary Southeast Asian art. Our suspicions started to focus on Mr. Lee when we read this advice about the Chinese Contemporary art market:
He recommends investors focus in the downturn on modern paintings that retain their investment value, but warned that Chinese contemporary art prices could come under pressure after a record-breaking rally.