The Chinese ceramics and works of art market is undergoing a price readjustment after a decade of unfettered growth, a trend highlighted at the latest Asian sales series staged at Christie's Hong Kong.
In the weeks leading up to Christie's 16-sale series from
November 29 to December 3, ceramic and works of art specialists
contacted vendors to make last-minute adjustments to estimates and
reserves in light of the deteriorating financial climate.
The series still attracted all the major players and - although
the overall take-up was only 56 per cent - there were some very
strong prices realised for the top end in the five ceramics and
works of art auctions.
The five sales produced the lion's share of the highlights and
contributed HK$296.5m (£25.8m) to Christie's series'
premium-inclusive tally of HK$1.13bn (£98.4m). The series also
included auctions of classical, modern and contemporary Asian
painting, jewellery, wine and watches.
Selling rates by lot ranged from 94 per cent for the opening
wine auction to 46 per cent for Chinese 20th century art.
The HK$1.13bn total fell short of Christie's HK$1.75bn pre-sale
estimate and represented less than one half of the firm's
record-breaking HK$2.4bn Asian extravaganza takings last December.
However, it was in line with Sotheby's HK$1.1bn Asian series tally
Collections with old provenances such as the 11-lot Vint
assemblage of jades in the 143-lot mixed vendor sale on December 3
exceeded expectations and attracted serious competition from
Western and Asian buyers.
All bar one lot sold, with an 11in (28cm) high, imperial
Qianlong (1736-95) dragon jar and cover headlining at HK$22m
(£1.92m). A similar vase without its cover had fetched HK$3.5m
(then £236,485) in the same rooms this May.
The series' most expensive entry was an imperial Qianlong
famille rose butterfly vase with a graviata pink ground from the
Ping Y Tai Foundation.
The 18in (46cm) high imperial ceramic tour de force had
previously been in the celebrated collection of Alfred Morrison
before being purchased by London dealer Marchant & Son in 1971
at Christie's for 1700 guineas or US$4310. Here, the estimate was
reduced to HK$40m (£3.5m). It sold to an Asian buyer at HK$47m
Christie's buyer's premium is 25/20/12 per cent.
Bonhams Hong Kong also staged a five-sale Asian series from
December 2 to 4, comprising Chinese ceramic and works of art,
jewellery, wine, watches and clocks. The series bagged HK$47.65m
(£4.15m) and was headlined by a pair of imperial Qianlong cloisonné
and gilt bronze censers and covers removed from Beijing's Summer
Palace in 1860 and old to a mainland Chinese buyer at HK$4m
By Kate Hunt
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