Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The modus operandi may be a little different (international travel remains difficult and, following the guidelines for the Phase Four reopening of Manhattan, sales are available to view by appointment only) but there are few signs that vendors believe that the market will suffer.

Some important Chinese works of art have even been consigned from overseas – despite the likely imposition of a 20% import tax on the purchase price (see News pages).

Christie’s in particular is going all in with a dozen live and online-only sales planned in a so-called Asian Art Week that runs from September 4-29. Four named private collections provide the core of this bonanza.

The Ankarcrona collection of Japanese lacquer will be sold in an online auction running from September 10 to October 1. Sten Ankarcrona (1861-1936), a young aristocratic Swedish naval officer, began collecting Asian works of art on his first visit to Japan in the late 1880s. In 1923, by then an admiral, he was appointed by the King of Sweden to travel back to Japan on a special mission, where he spent two months making many more purchases. His collection was been enriched into the early 21st century by his family.

A two-part sale titled A Lasting Engagement: The Jane and Kito de Boer Collection offers more than 150 works of 20th century Indian art from a Dutch couple who knew nothing of Francis Newton Souza or MF Husain when they moved to Delhi in 1992.

Modern European pictures owned by Chicago ‘cross category’ collectors James and Marilynn Alsdorf were offered as part of 20th Century Week in November 2019. The couple’s holdings of Asian art will be sold in a two-part sale titled Sacred and Imperial: The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection (September 24).

Carrying the heaviest financial load is a Japanese 28-piece collection of Gandharan sculpture. Highlights include a grey schist triad of Buddha Shakyamuni with bodhisattvas (estimate $600,000-800,000). One of a very few dated Gandharan works of art known, it has featured in publications more than 30 times.

Sale quintet

Sotheby’s has a quintet of sales planned: four live sales from September 22-23 and an online sale titled The Hundred Antiques: Fine and Decorative Asian Art that closes on September 29.

Two private collections merit the single catalogue treatment: jades from the collection of Stephen Junkunc, III and a private collection of Kangxi porcelain (both September 22).

Bonhams is holding four sales. On September 21, prior to a Chinese Paintings and Works of Art sale, is a collection of court paraphernalia and items of personal adornment encompassing multiple eras of dynastic China.


This Ming gold ‘dragon bracelet from the Ren Lu collection has a guide of $8000-12,000 at Bonhams on September 21.

Among the 63 lots are the 50 pieces from the Warring States period to the Qing that form the Ren Lu collection, assembled over 25 years by the Los Angeles designer, Robert Kuo.

Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art is offered on September 23 and Japanese and Korean Art on September 24.

While not all of the usual ‘regional’ salerooms have managed to piece together a sale this time, there is a strong showing from Hindman (holding Asian sales over three days in Chicago between September 24-26) and designated specialist sales at both Doyle New York on September 21 and Skinner in Marlborough on October 8.