High demand for Chinese art on the block

Updated: 2013-09-19 13:59

By Amy He in New York (China Daily)

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Chinese art continues to be a draw at US auction houses, with a bronze figure from the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty just selling for $1.3 million at Bonhams New York.

The figure of the deity Shadakshari Lokeshvara is made of a fine and rare gilt bronze. It was taken to Tibet from the Chinese capital sometime between 1408 and 1419, according to a statement from Bonhams.

"We are very pleased with the excellent price achieved for the rare Yongle bronze," said Bruce MacLaren, senior specialist for Chinese art at Bonhams New York, in a statement. "The presence of extraordinary examples representing highly sought-after genres of Chinese art inspired enthusiastic bidders to fill the Bonham galleries today."

High demand for Chinese art on the block

A Ming Dynasty bronze statue that recently sold at auction for $1.3 million. Art dealers are seeing a surging interest in acquiring art from China, mainly on the part of Chinese collectors with newfound wealth. Provided to China Daily

Part of the reason that the Yongle statue sold so well, MacLaren said in an interview, is that it was an imperial piece with a connection to a Chinese emperor. It represents some of the best craftsmanship from China of the day, he said.

The Bonham auction on Monday offered 208 pieces of art, 175 of which were sold for a total of $4.67 million. There were 260 people registered for the auction, according to Anne Wilson, public relations coordinator of Bonhams.

Other pieces sold at the auction include a gooseshaped bronze incense burner that went for $326,500, a painting by Qi Baishi that sold for $122,500 and a snuff bottle by Ding Erzhong from 1906 that fetched $80,500.

"[The demand for Chinese art] is largely due to China's economic growth in the last 10 years," MacLaren said. "There are many more Chinese buyers participating in the market, a result of tremendous new wealth in China." About 80 percent of the registrants at this auction were from China, he said.

There is interest from Western collectors and dealers, but MacLaren said that they're often "getting priced out". Chinese buyers are willing to bid aggressively for pieces, which causes certain pieces of art to sell at much higher prices than they sold for in the past.

Next week, Christie's will hold its 2 rst auction in Mainland China at the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai. The art to be auctioned includes Asian and European pieces, and is valued at a total of $16 million, said Christie's.

"The art market continues to grow at a tremendous rate due to the burgeoning interest in art particularly in Asia and China," said Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie's.




(China Daily USA 09/19/2013 page2)