Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pent-up demand for quality art coming to the fore

Sotheby’s Auctions are scaling new peaks for artists from Asia, in the process, exceeding presale estimate. An auction series in the first week of April fetched an impressive $41 million, a sure sign that the art market is fast returning to ‘normalcy’ from the sharp downturn witnessed during the recent global credit crunch. Sotheby’s had three separate auctions, including a sale of contemporary Asian art, and all did well.

Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s state that Asian buyers have become a major force in recent years when it comes to sales of Asian arts, antiques, and other categories such as gems and even ‘ultrahigh-end’ wines. Bidding in the Hong Kong auctions was from across the globe. The sales are testimony to the increasing spending power of Asian buyers, a set of buyers who largely escaped the economic downturn post 2008. A work by top contemporary Chinese artist Liu Ye went for $2.45 million, nearly three times its preauction estimate. ‘Bright Road’, another painting by the artist also set a new record. It fetched $18.7 million, easily topping the preauction estimate of $16.3 million.

Hit by the slump and global credit crunch, the international art marketplace set on a recovery path in late 2009, hand in hand with the economic recovery across Asia and the US. This reflects in the improved sentiment in new auction sales. The amount raised at Sotheby’s previous HK sales series last October - comprising art, watches, jewelry and other categories - was up almost 90 percent from its spring 2009 series.

Head of contemporary Asian art department, Sotheby’s, Evelyn Lin told IHT that the latest sales figures demonstrated ‘a strong return for blue-chip contemporary artists.’ Lin was mentioned as saying:
“There’s no question that these results show pent-up demand for great art. Asian art buyers have become much more mature, more discerning, more sophisticated.”
Indeed, the latest results suggest the rally is continuing.

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