Asian buyers start appearing on Christie’s radar

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NEW DELHI - Four percent of buyers at this week’s auctions at Christie’s, New York, were from Asia, a statement released by the famous auction house said, adding that the continent had started making its presence felt.

In terms of geography, 63 percent of buyers were American, 20 percent European, 4 percent Asian and 13 percent from other regions, the statement added.

The fact that Asians have made a small dent in the high-end market for post-War, contemporary western art was significant, a Christie’s official said.

Western auction houses started eyeing Asian buyers after an anonymous telephone bidder, believed to be Chinese, paid a world record $106.4 million for a work by Pablo Picasso at a Christie’s sale in May this year.

In fact, the Asian market is dominated by collectors from China.

China’s billionaire buyers are creating something of an electric atmosphere in the art world, the official said.

He said the potential for western art in Asia was massive.

There have been a very few Chinese people buying impressionist modern paintings in 2004 and 2005, but since last year, there has been almost a surge, he said.

Artist Roy Lichtenstein’s pop masterpiece of a blue-eyed, comic-style blonde, titled Ohhh…Alright… , fetched over $42 million, a world record for the artist’s work.

The week will probably be remembered as the season of Warhols - courtesy rival auction house Sotheby’s, which also created a record for a Warhol pop art. But it was Christie’s which led the market, by offering 15 of Warhol’s works on sale - and making over $70 million.

One of Warhol’s masterpieces, Big Campbell’s Soup Can With Can Opener (Vegetable) painted in 1962, was sold to an anonymous bidder for over $23 million.

In total, 45 works of art sold for over $1 million, eight works for over $5 million, and four works for over $10 million, the statement said.

Marc Porter, Chairman of Christie’s Americas, said the auction house welcomed an enthusiastic response from the global collecting community, including Asia, giving Christie’s the week’s highest total for post-war and contemporary art evening sales.

We continue to see ever-increasing demand from both new and established collectors with deep stores of wealth, who remain actively engaged in the auction market, Porter said.

According to New York Times, the Asian art market is returning full force from the downturn that followed the global credit crunch in 2008.

It attributes the resurgence in the Asian market to growing spending power, because many Asian countries escaped the full onslaught of recession.

In a statement, Andrew Foster, president of Christie’s Asia, said the trend is clear. Asia’s wealth is migrating to arts and lifestyle purchases.

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