March 16, 2010 / 4:59 PM / 8 years ago

Auctioneer plans $15 million emerging nations sale

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Around 450 works of art from emerging powers Brazil, Russia, India and China will be offered for sale in London next month and auctioneer Phillips de Pury expects them to raise around $15 million.

Company chairman Simon de Pury said the series of auctions, the first to be held at Charles Saatchi’s London gallery, will represent both the so-called “blue-chip” artists from the featured countries alongside lesser-known names.

“The stars of each country are extremely well represented by fine works, but the auction will really present a survey of what is happening in contemporary culture in those countries,” he told Reuters.

“And it is not only contemporary art, but also photography and design.”

Among the top lots to go on offer on April 23 and 24 are a 1974/75 work by Russian artist Erik Bulatov, estimated at 350-450,000 pounds ($525-675,000), a 2006 work by India’s Subodh Gupta (320-380,000 pounds) and a 2006 work by China’s Zhang Xiaogang (220-320,000 pounds).

All three are top names in the contemporary art scene who have commanded seven-figure sums at auction in recent years.

The overall estimates for the auctions are 9-13 million pounds.

The sales are entitled BRIC, borrowing the term usually used in the financial markets to describe the rapidly expanding economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Buyers from those countries have helped fuel a boom in fine art prices in recent years, which appears to be returning after a retrenchment due to the financial crisis.

And while renowned international names like Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon have benefited, so have artists from the super-wealthy buyers’ native countries.

De Pury said he expected a broad spectrum of bidders to show up to the auctions, the sixth in a series of thematic sales.

“We think there will be interest from collectors from those four countries, but the art market has become totally global and so we expect it to go way beyond collectors from the BRIC countries,” he said.

He added that he was confident about the strength of the contemporary art market, which was hit hard by the credit crunch but has recovered some poise.

Records for impressionist and post-war works, meanwhile, are tumbling again as the thirst for rare works of art returns, as does the handful of buyers able to afford them.

“One has already seen in contemporary art sales this year, and also contemporary art fairs, that there is a new vigor and level of activity in the contemporary art market, so I think we’ll see that in the sales that are scheduled in April and May,” he said.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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