Reuters’s James Pomfret writes a story claiming Sotheby’s Hong Kong sales mark a leg down in Asian art buying but backs it up with evidence of a strong demand from Chinese collectors. The reporter’s thesis is that 73% and 77% auction sell-through rates are signs of market weakness.
“It’ll be the same in New York. The top lots will fetch crazy prices and the average ones will sell poorly,” said Edouard Malingue, an Asian art dealer. “If you focus on medium quality, mediocre quality then I would be worried,” added Malingue.
It would be interesting to find the art dealer who raises her hand and attests that she focuses on mediocre quality works. Worse for Pomfret’s report, he goes on to quote a dealer gnashing his teeth at the buying power of mainlanders:
Yet Jeffrey Yu, a veteran Taiwan collector who described the mood as “very calm”, still expressed frustration at the lingering buying power of Chinese dealers and art investment syndicates in snapping up major works including a Zao Wou-ki abstract canvas “10.1.68” that made HK$68.9 million ($8.9 million) and a 1931 Sanyu “Reclining Nude” for HK$16.3 million.
“We just couldn’t chase the price said Yu, who bid up to HK$10 million for Wu Guanzhong’s “Versailles” before giving up.”The Chinese art syndicates still have huge budgets,” he added. “Chinese property isn’t doing well, nor are stocks so they’re still putting money into the best (Chinese) art.”