NEW York’s Asian celebrations in late March and the first week of April always galvanise the international trade, attracting to the city collectors, curators and dealers from all over the world.
The event is always enjoyable and critically successful,
although often the commercial dimension, which is after all the
most vital one, is a rather more difficult aspect to
This year, it seems Asia Week scored on all fronts, with good
sales at the dealers' gallery shows, keen demand at the Asian
auctions and, for most of the 55 exhibitors, the most successful
International Asian Art Fair for some time.
Founded by London duo Brian and Anna Haughton a decade ago, the
international fair, which was held at the Seventh Regiment Armory
on Park Avenue from April 1 to 6, with a charity preview on the
evening of March 31, is the single event which spawned Asia Week
and remains very much its hub.
It is gratifying that the tenth anniversary staging should be a
good one, and this was apparent from the preview party to benefit
the Asia Society. A rash of red dots around the fair bore out good
first-night business by most dealers.
The organisers have seen some big sales at their Manhattan fairs,
but, after the first night, Anna Haughton was moved to comment: "In
all the years we have been coming to the Armory I cannot remember
such frantic buying."
Buying was not necessarily frantic for the rest of the fair, but
there were plenty of sales.
As usual, museum curators were out in force and they bought well.
German dealer Erik Thomsen sold an important pair of c.1700 folding
Japanese screens by the Sotatsu School to a collector who is
donating them to New York's Metropolitan Museum in honour of
Barbara Ford, the museum's curator of Japanese art.
New York's Kang Collection sold eight of their top pieces to
Throughout Asia Week, mainland Chinese buyers were much in
evidence in New York and they were active at the fair. Chinese work
at all levels sold, but, reflecting current trends in the Asian
market, there was also much interest in Korean, Khmer and Tibetan
As in the past couple of years, there was strong interest in
London Japanese specialist Kevin Page said: "This year there
appears to be a markedly healthier interest in Japanese items
resulting in sales of major items to Japanese museums and
collectors, and to American private and trade buyers."
Jean Schaeffer of Flying Cranes, leading New York specialists in
Japanese works, reflected: "Our experience here at this fair
corroborates what has been transpiring at the gallery. Asian art,
in our case Japanese Meiji art, continues to burgeon and take its
rightful place in the art world."
While there were plenty of high-ticket sales at the likes of Carlo
Christi, The Chinese Porcelain Company, Nancy Wiener and John
Eskenazi (who sold his prize piece to an American collector for a
seven-figure sum) there were perhaps fewer showstoppers around than
in the past, with a bigger representation of the middle
But there were sales in all areas and it was noted this year that
contemporary, especially Japanese contemporary, work is really
After the fair, a typically happy exhibitor was Nader Rasti of
London firm Knapton Rasti.
He described it as a very, very good show, selling more than 30
pieces, including two to museums and most others to collectors and
He concluded: "The Haugh-ton fair is the best Asian show in the
world and if you don't sell here, you won't sell anywhere."
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