Bloomberg revisits the record Qianlong sold by Bainbridges last year to look at the issue of Chinese buyers failing to pay for the works they win at auction. In the case of the Bainbridge vase, the auctioneer has received some money which hampers his ability to resell it:
“Once you accept a part-payment, your hands are tied,” said the London dealer John Berwald. “Perhaps they should have just canceled the deal and re-offered the vase in Hong Kong. I believe it’s 100 percent genuine. Second time around, it could be worth at least 20 million pounds.”
Further down in the story, Scott Reyburn shows that the non-payment issue is far from simple even when deposits are required:
Paris-based Asian-art specialist Pierre Ansas required clients to leave a 200,000 euro ($265,000) deposit to bid on a Qianlong-period Imperial scroll painting and seal offered at auctions in Toulouse, France, on March 26.
The scroll was bid to a record 22.1 million euros and the seal to 12.4 million euros, both by Chinese clients. While the invoice for the scroll was settled within three months, only 2.2 million euros has so far been paid for the seal, Ansas said in a telephone interview.
“The buyer has until Jan. 10 to pay the rest,” said Ansas. ”Otherwise we will re-offer the seal in March. The valuation will be lower then — maybe 5 or 6 million euros — and the owners will sue for the difference between the prices.” In the event of the first buyer defaulting, the partial payment of 2.2 million euros will not be returned, said Ansas.
The successful bidder in Toulouse was a Hong Kong dealer representing a Chinese collector.
“He said he couldn’t pay because his client has lost a lot of money inChina,” said Ansas. “The economy isn’t so good now. It’s a tough situation and I don’t see how we’re going to solve these non-payment problems. The market has been very speculative.”