China ceramics sale seen glowing amid economic gloom

Thu Sep 8, 2011 11:04am EDT
 
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Despite darkening global economic clouds, Sotheby's expects solid demand for a batch of rare Chinese ceramics from a vintage European collection after a much hyped auction of works from the same Swiss owners fell flat in April.

The Meiyintang collection, an assemblage of European ceramics gathered over nearly half a century by pharmaceutical tycoons, the Zuellig brothers, was one of the last intact classic major private collections of Chinese ceramics until put on the block in Hong Kong earlier in the year.

But the much-hyped sale ultimately disappointed with two blockbuster lots, a golden phoenix Qing vase and a sublime Chenghua palace bowl, languishing unsold on the auction block after market players blamed excessive pre-sale estimates and tighter credit requirements for choking off enthusiasm.

The two items found undisclosed buyers afterwards.

Sotheby's, however, is hopeful a second offering of 40 Meiyintang treasures to be put up for sale in October will stoke fresh interest despite stock market jitters over Europe's worsening debt crisis and U.S. economic fragility.

"From the few collectors we've shown the pieces to I'm confident the sale will do very well," Nicolas Chow, Sotheby's Asia deputy chairman, told Reuters.

"There are some people who're worried about the market but if you look at how solid assets have been moving like gold and diamonds I see no reason to worry about Chinese art,

"An important piece of porcelain is maybe a little bit less liquid than a great diamond but at the same time I would say it's at least as solid an asset as that."   Continued...