The Wall Street Journal wonders if Asian buyers can add heat to the Old Master market despite having their own long-standing tradition of great artists. Christie’s is shopping a Botticelli in Hong Kong, just as Sotheby’s had late last year:
Sotheby’s brought the Raphael drawing and 26 other works to Hong Kong [...] before the London and New York sales, the auction house’s first-ever public showing of Old Masters works in Asia, said Sotheby’s Old Masters specialist Alex Bell. Though their ranks are still small, the number of Asian bidders in Sotheby’s Old Masters sales has doubled in the last five years, with several clients bidding on multimillion-dollar items, he said.
Chinese buyers may not care about the religious content of the works but they’re bound to appreciate the time-tested value of the works:
Ken Yeh, chairman of Christie’s Asia, said Asian patrons may look past the religious content to see the work, in part, as an investment: “When you spend that kind of money, you have to think about resale value,” he said. “It’s no longer just to decorate your house.”
And lest you think this is merely auction house hype, the Journal found a dealer who’s banking on the ineluctable pull of globalization too:
Other dealers can imagine Asian art patrons branching out to Renaissance works, particularly if collectors with homes in London and New York become inspired by great art collections in those cities, said Patrick Matthiesen, a London dealer of Old Masters. “There will be people who will buy this—it’s only just beginning.”