A major new marketplace or simply a case of wishful thinking? That was the question as the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (Triple-A) and their Beijing-based partners, Huachen Auctions, held a much-heralded auction in south east China.
With marketing support from Chinese online bidding portal Epailive, Triple-A had overcame substantial administrative and logistical hurdles to conduct the first-ever auction of Western antiques in a Chinese free porton April 21.
The aim was to shed light on what domestic buyers would stomach - in terms of both taste and price - when it comes to Western chattels. Would the sale herald the embryonic moments of a major new marketplace for English and Continental furnishings or suggest a case of wishful thinking?
It was no surprise that bidding for this cross-section of Western taste and collecting disciplines was highly selective - roughly three-quarters of the 360 lots were unsold - but the results included some surprisingly high prices for mid-market English and Continental chattels in the £500 to £10,000 range.
This small Edwardian mahogany centre table painted with musical trophies and floral swags was not untypical, selling to a Chinese internet bidder for RMB35,000 (£3725).
"There seemed to be a strong appetite for affordable mid-market pieces in the £500 to £10,000 range," said Triple-A chairman Chris Ewbank. He described the venture as an unqualified success and one that "has shown us clearly where our future emphasis should be in China".