Another sign of the jittery art market
this week (you know it's bad when I don't even realize I've used the word gloomy as a descriptor twice in a row) was the pulling of a major piece of Asian art before its auction at Sotheby's. For weeks, Sotheby's had been promoting its November 5th Asian Art auction in London and in specific a large and very rare gilt bronze figure of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara which dates back to the Xuande Period and is dated 1435. The piece was expected to bring in at least £2.5 million. The statue was withdrawn on the morning of the sale by the Scottish family that owns it. After the withdrawal, the sale that was expected to bring in at least £6 million only brought in 3.3 million pounds with fees, with about two thirds of the lots selling. Bloomberg quotes Robert Bradlow,
head of Sotheby's Chinese department in London as saying that the sellers felt it had to be withdrawn because of the state of the market.
The Sotheby's sale was part of the 11th annual Asian Art in London,which continues through Nov. 12. Reports from the sales overall reveal that buyers are currently cautious and not willing to pay a lot for pieces, fearing that in six months or a year the prices could slide even further. But some pieces are still selling well. At Christie's, a Chinese yellow jade belt hook sold for £825,250 pounds setting a record for any archaic jade carving and soaring above the estimate of £100,000 to £150,000. Both auctioneers and dealers are finding it hard to sell more routine items, buyers either want something special and rare or nothing at all.