A pair of Chinese porcelain vases fetched $1.2 million; a 7-inch-tall celadon vase sold for $2.3 million and a bronze Buddha statue went for $485,000 — all blowing past their presale estimates many times over.
So went the buying spree during Asia Week in New York this week as Chinese dealers and collectors packed the salesrooms and snapped up pieces of their cultural heritage. Auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams and Doyle New York are expected to tally $95 million.
The Chinese art market is regaining strength after sales plummeted 43 percent to $6.6 billion in 2012, according to a study published today by New York-based researcher Artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers, which represents top Chinese auction houses and has 2,500 members.
Public auctions of Chinese artworks globally tallied $8.5 billion in 2013, up 29 percent from the previous year, but short of the $11.5 billion peak in 2011, according to the “Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2013.” Mainland China accounted for 73 percent of all Chinese art and antiques sales in 2013.
“The market has improved quite substantially,” Clare McAndrew, an art economist who wrote the report’s introduction, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a much slower growth. You won’t see things like you saw in 2010-2011.”
The expansion of China’s art market — in Mainland China, sales increased by more than 500 percent from 2008 to 2011 — has been accompanied by the proliferation of fakes, late payments and non-payments. These issues have discouraged new buyers and undermined credibility of Chinese auction houses.
As of May 31, 2013, 44 percent of lots sold by licensed auction houses in China during 2012 had not been fully paid for, according to the report.
Read more at Bloomberg.