The event opened on November 3 with a champagne reception at the China Exchange in Soho. Two awards were presented for outstanding works of art: one went to Sotheby’s for their Southern Song conical tenmoku bowl with a mother of pearl inlaid stand and the other went to Peter Finer for his 18th century Indian parade shield decorated with thulth calligraphy.
Both pieces went on to sell.
For Peter Finer, specialist in arms and armour, the shield was one of 11 sales made by last Friday. The gallery added that it “met new collectors, new dealers and most importantly did business with new clients. The event is extremely well organised and draws and international crowd.”
In other quarters, however, the international showing was felt less strongly.
Michael Cohen of Cohen & Cohen said that it was a successful week “despite the disappointing turnout of the usual crowd. There were certainly fewer people than last year. The US election meant many US buyers did not visit this year.”
A representative of Simon Ray agreed: “There were not as many international visitors this year and not so many Americans – though when they did come they still bought. They were shopping despite grumbling.” He added that it was on the quieter days that the gallery made many of its sales, including 2 paintings to museums.
In total, the 48 dealers and eight auction houses participated in this year’s event. Some of the standout sales by dealers are listed below.
- Gregg Baker Asian Art, which has participated in the event since it started in 1998, reported that this was its most successful ever event with half the stock sold, including Symbol of Infinite Space by the Japanese artist Suda Kokuta, one of the pieces shortlisted for the Asian Art in London award.
- Cohen & Cohen sold a large blue and white tiger dish to a South American collector for a “substantial” five figure sum. The Shunzhi period (1643-1661) piece features a central scene of a tiger and two birds.
- Eskenazi sold 12 works many for five and six figure sums (in USD). One of the highlight pieces of the exhibition, which was reported to have an asking price in the region of $3.5m, was an archaic bronze wine vessel (or zun) from the 11th – 10 century BC. It was among the pieces that sold.
- Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art also sold half its catalogue including a Mughal painting and a silver box from India, which came from the collection of Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. While it reported visits from one US museum, two Asian museums and a few from Europe, these numbers were down from previous years.
- John Eskenazi also said that there were fewer people in London for the event, but that there were still those prepared to buy, including several Chinese collectors making their first visit to the event.