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    Uptick in Asian Art Auctions As Market Rebound Continues

    The latest Asia Week art auctions (March 22–25) were upbeat, and overall sale volume continued to bounce back from levels seen during the market downturn.

    NEW YORK—The latest Asia Week art auctions (March 22–25) were upbeat, and overall sale volume continued to bounce back from levels seen during the market downturn. Christie’s posted a total of $117 million compared with $60 million last year, and Sotheby’s took in $84 million compared with $22.6 million a year ago (ANL, 4/6/10).

    Christie’s held a total of seven sales: South Asian modern and contemporary art ($9.8 million); Japanese and Korean art ($14.8 million); Indian and Southeast Asian art ($11.2 million); Chinese ceramics and works of art ($53.7 million); and sales of works from three private collections ($28 million).

    At Sotheby’s, a major portion of the sale volume was realized for auctions focused on Chinese ceramics, which totaled $71.4 million. Modern and contemporary South Asian art accounted for $4 million, while Indian and Southeast Asian works of art realized $9.4 million.

    At Christie’s Japanese and Korean art sale, the top lot was a pair of six-panel screens (ink, color, gold and gold leaf on paper) attributed to Kano Naizen (1570–1616) and entitled Southern Barbarians Come to Trade, which realized $4.8 million compared with the unpublished estimate “in the region of $4 million,” according to a Christie’s spokesman, and setting a record for Japanese painting.

    Katsura Yamaguchi, international director of Japanese and Korean art, said the consignor of the screens will donate part of the proceeds to the ongoing tsunami and earthquake relief efforts in Japan. Yamaguchi noted that the total was Christie’s second highest in this sale category.

    Among Korean works, the top lot was a rare blue-and-white porcelain dragon jar, 18th century, which sold for $3.9 million, against an unpublished estimate of $3 million. Korean art specialist Heakyum Kim, said bidding was “very active and buyers came from all over the globe.”

    Among modern works that were well received was an oil by Kim Whanki, 2-V-73 #313, 1973, which sold for $1.4 million (estimate: $800,000/1 million).

    The top-selling work of the Indian and Southeast Asian art auction was a gray schist figure of the Emaciated Siddhartha, or “Fasting Buddha,” third/fourth century, standing 31½ inches high, which sold for $4.5 million, compared with an estimate of $4 million.

    The South Asian modern and contemporary art sale was led by a diptych by Tyeb Mehta (1925–2009), Bulls, 2005–7, bought for a record $2.8 million, compared with an unpublished estimate of $2 million.

    An untitled oil on canvas, 1987, by abstract painter Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2001) sold for $722,500 (estimate: $300,000/500,000), and an oil on canvas Untitled (Gaja Lakshmi), 2004, by Manjit Bawa (1941–2008) sold for $476,500 compared with an estimate of $270,000/350,000.

    All of the top ten works sold at prices that exceeded high estimate. Deepanjana Klein, head of the sale and a specialist in the South Asian modern and contemporary art department said the auction “reflected the continued strength and breadth of this collecting field and witnessed lively bidding by international buyers on the telephone.”

    At the modern and contemporary South Asian art sale at Sotheby’s, Untitled (Reclining Nude), 1960, oil on canvas by Akbar Padamsee (b. 1928), sold for $1.4 million (estimate: $500,000/700,000).

    Also among the top lots was an untitled oil by Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915) that sold for $602,500 (estimate: $500,000/700,000) and Death Scene, by Rabindranath Tagore (1891–1941) that sold for $338,500, compared with an estimate of $300,000/500,000.