Porcelain, jade, ceramics highlight NY Asian art sales

Fri Sep 7, 2012 3:27pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ming flasks, precious jade, rare porcelain and contemporary works of art are among thousands of objects going up for auction in the semi-annual Asian art sales starting Monday in New York.

With five days of auctions offering items from Chinese ceramics to 15th-century scrolls, and combined estimated sales totals of more than $60 million, the stakes are high for Christie's and Sotheby's as they gauge the Asian sector of the art market.

Art experts say Asian collecting is an important driver in the global market, as evidenced by strong activity over the last 18 months, despite the lackluster global economy.

"The share of Christie's sales turnover enjoyed by Asian art worldwide has more than doubled in the last five years," said Jonathan Stone, Christie's international head of Asian art who is based in Hong Kong.

"Every season we see a growing number of Asian buyers at Christie's and in the first half of this year there was a 31 percent increase in Asian clients registering to bid in our sales in London and New York," Stone added.

The New York sales begin with Sotheby's auction of South Asian modern and contemporary art, featuring four private American collections. It is led by a large scale work by eminent Indian painter MF Husain who died in 2011. The work, "Untitled (The Three Muses, Maya Series), is estimated to fetch up to $700,000.

The auctions conclude with Christie's two-day sale of fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, which are expected to take in from $10 million to more than $15 million. The top item is a rare bronze ritual wine vessel from China that is more than 3,000 years old and could sell for up to $800,000.

Indian and Southeast Asian art, ceramics, snuff bottles, Imperial jade seals and Japanese and Korean art will also be auctioned.   Continued...

A paper handscroll by Lan Ying titled "Landscape after Wu Zhen" is pictured in this handout released to Reuters on September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Sotheby's New York/Handout