"Lucky" 8 at star art auction to lure wealthy Chinese

Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:58pm EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A huge, red and violet number 8 by U.S. pop artist Robert Indiana will go on sale in April at a Hong Kong auction with a star-studded catalog aimed at enticing wealthy Asians to buy Western contemporary art.

The April 4 sale, by South Korea's Seoul Auction, features works by Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Takashi Murakami, as well as a host of top-notch Chinese, Japanese and Korean artists.

"All of these works are of superlative quality and are specially curated to appeal to knowledgeable Asian collectors," Misung Shim, managing director of Seoul Auction Hong Kong, said.

The contemporary art market has yet to recover from the battering it took during the global economic downturn, but by targeting collectors in China, whose economy is surging as the rest of the world grapples with the fallout, the auctioneers expect to exceed the sale's $8 million total estimate.

"We are witnessing a growing interest and a greater level of appreciation of Western contemporary art among Asian collectors," Seoul Auction CEO Jun Lee said.

"We have seen rapidly increasing interest in Western contemporary art within the past couple of years amongst collectors in mainland China, and we believe that China is a highly significant market with vast potential for this category."

While the global financial downturn has failed to dull Chinese collectors' appetite for classical Chinese art, jewels and rare artifacts, Chinese and Asian contemporary art, which was one of the hottest segments of the market pre-crisis, has yet to return to its record-breaking heyday.

Quality works by renowned Western artists, however, have seen intense bidding in Asia, with Seoul Auction selling a painting by British contemporary artist Damien Hirst for a record $2.22 million last year.   Continued...