FRENCH auction houses have toughened their stance on Chinese bidders after a series of well-publicised problems with non-payment.
Toulouse auction houses led the way when offering two important
Qianlong works of art for sale on March 26.
A 79ft (24m) scroll of a military procession dating from 1739,
was expected to bring €3m-4m at Marc Labarbe, sufficient for Pierre
Ansas, the freelance Asian art specialist who catalogued the sale,
to ask potential buyers for a returnable deposit of €200,000 to
allow them to bid at the sale.
The one European and seven Asian bidders who registered to bid
also contracted to pay one third of the premium-inclusive price
within a week and the balance of the bill within three months if
they were successful.
The same rules applied to bidders for an Imperial white jade
seal offered on the same day by fellow Toulouse auctioneers
M. Ansas conceded the move - which auction body Symev confirmed
is not common practice in France - was unpopular, but he was not
prepared to risk falling victim to a non-paying bidder of the type
that has blighted the sale of the £43m vase at Bainbridge's of West
He told the Bloomberg news wire: "I need to be responsible. I
have a business to run. I would rather have sold the scroll for
€8m-10m to someone with money in the bank, rather than for a crazy
price to someone I don't know."
He added that the agent representing the Liaoning-based real
estate billionaire Wang Jianlin - recently identified by dealers as
the successful bidder at Bainbridge's in November - had been
refused permission to register for the sale.
In an effort to resolve the payment issues surrounding their
record-breaking vase, auctioneer Peter Bainbridge and owner retired
solicitor Anthony Johnson from the Isle of Wight, were reported to
have flown to China to meet the buyer of the most expensive Chinese
work of art ever sold.
A report on the sale of the scroll for €17.8m (£16.18m) and the
seal for €10m (£9.09m) appears in the International Events
section of this week's ATG printed newspaper. To subscribe,
By Roland Arkell