Cancelled auction in Japan

On 4 November, China cancelled a Japanese auction sale at which pillaged cultural treasures were proposed for sale. The press release, published by the State Administration on Cultural Heritage (SACH), has not revealed details on the sale. After an investigation was carried out by the SACH to define the provenance of pieces, Japan’s Yakohama International Auction decided to cancel its sale of relics — “illegally obtained by Otani Kozui and his fellows,” says the press release —, namely Dunhuang mural paintings and Buddhist manuscripts dating from the Tang dynasty (618-907). Japanese explorer Otani Kozui conducted and financed several expeditions to the northwest Chinese region from 1902 to 1914, and probably acquired pieces illegally before bringing them back to Japan. This is the first time that China has succeeded in getting an auction outside its territory cancelled, despite international treaties protecting such cultural...

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Fine Art Asia 2016: Great varieties, strong sales

With an array of 6,000 pieces of art and antiques worth HK$3 billion presented by world-renowned galleries, Fine Art Asia 2016 was held on 2-5 October – as usual, Fine Art Asia 2016 was staged at the peak of the October art season in Hong Kong, coinciding with Sotheby’s auctions in the same venue. Gathering 85 exhibitors from around the world showcasing a wide range of museum-quality artworks and antiques, the 12th edition of the fair has welcomed 22,500 visitors, according to the organizer. Andy Hei, Co-Chairman and Director of Fine Art Asia claimed, in the post-fair press release, that there was “a real buzz at this year’s fair with an encouraging number of new and younger collectors as well as many loyal old friends”; and that the attendance and sales exceeded theirexpectations “due to the very high quality of the exhibitors who are all experts in their fields”.  The organizer was delighted that to receive positive responsefrom Hong Kong and international galleries, in terms of both visitors’ interest in their works of art and in sales. From antiques to contemporary art Fine Art Asia is probably one of the few art fairs in the region that brings both antiques and contemporary art together in one fair. It showcases artworks spanning 5,000 years of cultural history included Oriental and Western antiques; classical and contemporary Chinese ink paintings; Impressionist, modern and contemporary art from Pissarro, Monet, Sisley and Picasso through to Damien Hirst; fine jewellery, antique silver and timepieces; and photography. Therefore, it provides a well-facilitated and convenient platform for both art dealers of different specializations and collectors with various interests to meet. International exhibitors including Vanderven Oriental Art (The Netherlands), Robert Hall (London), Priestley & Ferraro Chinese Art (London), Gallery Lamy (Brussels), Nicholas Grindley (London), Susan Ollemans Oriental Art (London), Ateliers Brugier and Galerie Luohan(Paris), presented a wide range of rare Chinese antiques and works of art. Kaikodo (New York) presentedclassical Chinese paintings while Koopman Rare Art (London), and Somlo Antiques (London), returning to the fair with exquisite antique silver and timepieces respectively, alongside new exhibitors Silver & Silver (Bologna) and...

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2015 report on Chinese art and auctions

The final delivery of the 2015 report on Chinese art and auctions worldwide, published at the end of August by Artnet in partnership with the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA), notes a decline of slightly more than 10 %, with results falling from $7.9 billion in 2014 to $7.1 billion in 2015. While the sales of Chinese art overseas have more than quadrupled since 2009 – comprising an unexpected boost in 2015 –, the market within China has cooled. According to the Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report, auction sales in mainland China decreased in 2015, totalling $4.4 billion, in other words a 19 % fall compared with 2014, thus dipping under the 2012 level. Still in mainland China, the number of auction houses selling Chinese art has dropped to 274, in other words 18 less than in 2014, marking the first decline in the number of active auction houses in the last four years. The Chinese painting and calligraphy market has also slowed to its lowest level in six years, both in terms of value (62 %) and volume (43 %). Thankfully buoyed up by a rise in demand in the West, namely North America, the market outside China still managed to reach a historic level in 2015, reaping $2.6 billion, which for the first time represents a proportion of more than half of the market of mainland...

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David Zwirner to open in Hong Kong

The David Zwirner gallery has announced the opening of a new space in Hong Kong, scheduled for 2017. This new space, intended to host six exhibitions per year, has been designed by New York architect Annabelle Selldorf. David Zwirner has justified the opening of the new space in this way: “We have seen literally explosive growth in the interest for Western art among Asian collectors.” Covering around 10,000 m2, the space will occupy the 5th and 6th floors of the H Queen building constructed by architect William Lim from the CL3 Architects agency that offers flexible spaces meeting ecological standards. This development confirms David Zwirner’s ambitions in China, after flirting with the idea of opening a gallery in Beijing and Shanghai. This is the gallery’s third space following New York and London. The gallerist has expressed his hopes for Asia: “I feel that more Western galleries will want to and have to arrive. It’s hard to imagine that if you really think globally in your business that you can’t be in Asia, and I think for the foreseeable future, that will be in Hong...

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Christie’s opens a Beijing space

Christie’s will be opening an exhibition space in Beijing. The project is being supervised by Rebecca Wei, President of Christie’s Asia. Despite the slowdown of the Chinese art market in 2015, the auction house is continuing to develop in the country that is nonetheless the world’s biggest art market with among the highest growth prospects. Christie’s already had a space in Beijing but the new one is set to facilitate the hosting of temporary and permanent exhibitions. After opening an auction room in Shanghai in 2013, Christie’s is continuing its development in China and Asia. The first exhibition in this new space will be “International art highlights from Christie’s November New York...

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