Quietly, the long hoped-for influx of Asian buyers to the Western art market seems to be finally taking place. Volumes are shrinking in the Impressionist and Modern market even as global buyers are showing an increasing interest in 19th and 20th Century European art.
The Evening Standard reports that Christie’s Jussi Pylkkanen tipped Eastern buyers as the bedrock of Tuesday’s PWC evening sale but their buying is deeper than Contemporary art:
“Asians took a third of the sale,” Pylkkänen revealed. “There was much more dramatic bidding from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Indonesia than we have ever seen. If you thought the Chinese are interested only in Chinese artists, you are wrong,” he said. “They buy Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Monet. And they want old masters too.”
Colin Gleadell did some sleuthing at last week’s Impressionist and Modern sales. He identifies one very active bidder who lost out on several significant lots to Chinese and other buyers:
A more familiar figure at the Derby or Ascot, Dr Cyrus Poonawalla is a horse-breeder and biotech billionaire, one of India’s wealthiest men. Although he was outbid on the Monet and the Picasso, he was not out of the action. At Christie’s, he bought a small Renoir landscape over estimate for £665,000 and a quasi-religious painting by Dalí below estimate for £902,000. At Sotheby’s the next evening, Poonawalla was the man to beat as he pushed a phone bidder to a top estimate £6.2 million for an early Monet of a wooden bridge, and then an Asian buyer who had to pay a top estimate of £662,500 for a Dalí portrait.
The following day, he returned to Sotheby’s with renewed vigour to buy two dark, early van Gogh paintings, one for a quadruple estimate £1.3 million. He also took home a set of 19 silver plates designed by Picasso, paying a triple estimate £1.3 million, and, fittingly, a painting of Royal Ascot by Raoul Dufy for £242,500.
Gleadell goes further in pointing out that Christie’s identified 22% of the buyers in the Imp-Mod sales as Asians (Sotheby’s seems to confirm the same level in their sale), with the Chinese having the biggest impact.
it was buyers from China who again made the greater impact. One paid a staggering, record £5.1 million for a unique bronze cast of Camille Claudel’s sensuous The Waltz. […] The sale also saw Asian buyers take home drawings by Schiele, Degas and Picasso, a sculpture by Rodin and a painting by Dalí.
Christie’s says art market is full of Eastern promise (Evening Standard)
Rising Tide of Eastern Buyers (Telegraph)