Fine art, antiques and collectables worth £8m, consigned from the UK by a consortium of regional auctioneers, are currently on a container ship heading to China.
They are set for a ground-breaking sale at
the Xiamen Free Port in Fujian Province on April 21.
The first event of its type to promote
Western antiques in China, it is the initiative of the
recently-formed Association of Accredited Auctioneers (Triple-A).
The association comprises 21 of the leading independent auctioneers
from around the UK who have pooled their resources to promote this
quintessentially English industry in China. To avoid red tape the
sale will be conducted by the Chinese auctioneer Huachen Auctions,
with all consignments imported 'duty-free' until they are sold.
As has previously been reported, Triple-A
have already enrolled in an escrow and foreign exchange licensing
system - organised by, but operated independently of, online
bidding portal EpaiLive - that ensures payments are made by
successful bidders and can be transmitted into Sterling without
delay. The sale itself will be conducted in RMB, the local
The consignments currently in transit, in
time for pre-sale viewing at the British Ambassador's residence in
Beijing on April 12, represent a cross-section of Western taste and
collecting disciplines designed to test the Chinese appetite for
European art and antiques. Quite how strong this is now (or may be
in the future) remains a great unknown, but Triple-A's chairman,
Chris Ewbank, said consignors had embraced the concept.
"We have been overwhelmed by support for the
sale by Triple-A members and their clients, and whilst the
logistics of pulling this sale together have been immense,
everything is going to plan," he said.
Vendors involved in the project will be
charged what Mr Ewbank termed "a relatively modest administration
fee" that primarily reflects the cost of shipping.
The sale will comprise just under 400 lots -
less than half the number suggested when the ambitious project was
first mooted late last year - but the combined low estimate will be
around £8m. "Our original plan was to initiate a consignment worth
in the region of £1.5m-£2m," said Mr Ewbank. "In response to the
strength of support from Triple-A member clients, and given the
practical problems in moving so many objects first to Beijing and
then Xiamen, it was decided to concentrate on quality and not
Members of the trade have consigned some of
the headline items.
Led by a Louis XVI-style gilt-bronze-mounted
mahogany commode à vantaux with bronze mounts by Léon
Kahn (estimate £100,000-120,000), there are 160 lots of antique
furniture and works of art, while close to 100 paintings range from
Russian social realism to the French graffiti artist Blek le
Chinese buyers have already shown their enthusiasm for English
clocks (and here among 50 lots of clocks and silver is a George I
ebony table clock by John Shaw of Holborn estimated at
£12,000-14,000), while a further 50 lots of coins, stamps, books
and manuscripts include a trail sheet of Penny Blacks with red
cancellations, estimated at £200,000.