Souren Melikian rightly identifies the overwhelming force behind the global art market: the desire to possess history in the form of objects made for or owned by great figures from the past. Ever the aesthete, Melikian finds this trend wanting in his International Herald Tribune piece:
The surging preference given to historical considerations over art is a worldwide phenomenon. It will keep rising because history inspires growing interest in our global culture with a melancholy yearning for a past perceived as glorious, and because it offers an objective selection criterion to those who do not see the art — or the lack of it.
In the Far East, new Chinese buyers fight over works of art with imperial reign marks, particularly those proving or sometimes misleadingly implying that they were made for the emperor’s personal use. […] In the short term, I would put my money on a number of Chinese works of art made for Ming and Qing emperors inching their way up toward the $100 million mark. Dynastic objects from the more distant past are incomparably rarer in the Arab world than in China. Should some important 13th- or 14th-century bronze inscribed to a sultan’s name ever turn up at auction, it might trigger unprecedented fireworks.
Art Anchored in History Will Soar This Season (International Herald Tribune)