The Asia Week auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's will
feature thousands of items in a series of sales that could top
$100 million. Last spring's auctions totaled more than $130
million in sales.
"We've got collectors coming from China, Hong Kong and India and
Europe, of course," said Hugo Weihe, Christie's International
director for Asian art.
Asia has become a dominant player in the global art market,
particularly in post-war and contemporary art sales.
"I think one of the most wonderful and fascinating things about
Asia Week is that it covers literally the whole of Asia," said
Henry Howard-Sneyd, vice chairman of Asian art at Sotheby's.
"We offer art from predominantly China and from India, but of
course we also have material from other parts of Asia as well,"
Weihe said in addition to the aesthetic appeal of the works,
collectors view art as an alternative asset class.
"People see it as something beautiful you can live with, but it
is also going to hold its value over time. And if you look
historically the way prices have risen, it is a very good
proposition," he explained.
CHINA SECOND LARGEST ART MARKET
The global art market totaled $65.9 billion last year, an
increase of 8 percent and the highest level since 2007,
according to a report by the European Fine Art Foundation.
Although the United States is the biggest art market with an
estimated $25 billion, sales in China were nearly $16 billion, a
rise of 2 percent from the previous year. It accounts for about
24 percent of global art sales, the figures showed.
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Weihe said a Chinese "Min" fanglei, a massive bronze ritual wine
vessel, which sold for $10 million previously and dates to the
12th-11th century BC, is the top lot of Christie's March 18-21
Another highlight is Indian artist Tyeb Mehta's "Untitled (Bull)," a
2000 painting of a falling, flailing bull, which has a pre-sale
estimate of up to $3 million.
Paintings, sculptures, manuscripts representing Asia's various
religions and drawings by the Indian artist Francis Newton Souza
will also be featured.
At Sotheby's, a Chinese bronze owl-headed ritual wine vessel dating
to the 8th-7th century BC could fetch as much as $6 million.
"It's designed with the combination of owl and also a very abstract
form. And, so you can use it both as a vessel and you can treat it
as a sculpture," said Tao Wang, the head of Sotheby's Chinese works
of art department in New York.
"The Cantilevered Road to Shu," a huge landscape painting by Chinese
artist Yuan Yao, who worked in the mid-18th century, could sell for
upwards of $2 million.
Painting No. 3 by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, considered one of India's
leading abstract painters, has the same pre-sale estimate.
(Additional reporting by Tony Pyle;
editing by Eric Kelsey and Marguerita Choy)
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