Daily Archives: September 14, 2009

Sotheby’s Autumn Auction 2009: Top 10 Lots To Watch

Strong interest from Asian buyers expected to spark October sale in HK

As we reported recently, the Sotheby’s autumn auction of Asian art which highlights important contemporary Chinese pieces — will take place in Hong Kong on October 6. With combined estimates at over $12 Million US (HK $98 Million), this sale is expected to be one of the year’s biggest and most-watched auctions. As we have noticed in recent sales — both in Hong Kong and elsewhere — one thing we can expect in this auction is a high proportion of domestic Chinese buyers in the room, and we can expect them to be motivated to buy. Today, in preparation for the upcoming auction season, Forbes published an article on the market for Chinese art, noting that it is becoming gradually more difficult for western collectors to buy a range of Chinese art because of the growing collector base within the country. Describing the increasing numbers of Chinese bidders at antiquities auctions, Sallie Brady writes, “there’s a new dynamic afoot that promises to drive up prices: Mainland Chinese are entering the market in ever greater numbers.”

So for collectors who are interested in making bids on lots in the upcoming Sotheby’s auction, what should they know before they go head-to-head with Chinese buyers? Aside from doing their research to stay up-to-date on recent developments and informed about the past work and possible future longevity of the historical artworks that are up for grabs, it pays to know which lots are the “all stars.” I have looked through the catalog, and here is my list of the “Top 10” lots up for auction on October 6:

1.) Cai Guo-Qiang: Money Net No. 2 (2002)
Lot: 645
Estimate: US$ 605,000-705,000 (HK$ 4,700,000-5,500,000)

MoneyNet.jpg Cai Guo-Qiang (born 1957, Quanzhou, Fujian Province) was educated in stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute from 1981 to 1985. Gunpowder is his trademark medium, from drawings and paintings made by igniting carefully monitored explosions on paper and canvas to massive explosion events like Projects for Extraterrestrials. He is also known for sculptural installation works such as Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrows (1998), a massive wooden boat riddled with arrows that recalls a legendary tactic of an ancient Chinese general. Cai has had many solo exhibitions, including Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2006) and Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2008). He was awarded the International Golden Lion prize at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999), and curated the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). He was the Chief Special Effects Designer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ creative team. Cai lives in Brooklyn.
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Shanghai’s Zhabei District Gets Its First Five-Star Hotel

Lexington Plaza Hotel Opens 28 Story, 288 Room Hotel In One Of City’s Up-And-Coming Areas

Zhabei's first five-star hotel could attract new business to the district or draw tourists as the area transforms over time

Zhabei's first five-star hotel could attract new business to the district or draw tourists as the area transforms over time

While hotel openings are not exactly uncommon occurences in a metropolis like Shanghai, the opening of Zhabei District’s first five-star hotel is somewhat noteworthy because of its location and novelty. Zhabei, an area known more as the location of the Shanghai Multimedia Valley tech zone and a popular area for foreign companies looking to set up shop in the area than a must-see for travelers or expats, is gradually developing into a more interesting part of town. With new luxury hotels under construction and more restaurants, bars, and attractions sure to follow, the new five-star Lexington Plaza might just be a taste of what’s to come rather than a strange outlier among a wider industrial landscape.

According to the company’s press release, the Zhabei location follows two existing properties owned by the company, in Shenyang and Zhuai, and the brand has plans to open several more properties under the Lexington Collection flag before year’s end:

According to Roger Bloss, CEO and President of Vantage Hospitality, Lexington’s parent company, the Shanghai property is a testament to the success of Lexington’s Freestyle Brand Affiliation in Asia. “Hotel owners worldwide are making smart decisions and choosing an international affiliation, like The Lexington Collection, that provides them with the freedom to do business as they see fit for their customers while enjoying Vantage’s comprehensive resources.”  

China Getting Serious About (Classical) Music

Caijing: “Mozart Would Be Pleased” About Progress Made In China’s Classical Music Scene In The Past Few Years

Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts is one of the world's newest and most unique venues for classical venues

Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts is one of the world's newest and most unique venues for classical venues

Classical music aficionados may already be familiar with a handful of top Chinese musicians, from pianist Lang Lang and composer Tan Dun to the scores of musicians trained in traditional Chinese styles. However, on a broader scale the world remains generally in the dark about recent developments that have had a dramatic effect on the Chinese classical music scene. Recently, Caijing magazine looked into the rapidly developing Chinese classical music world, which has responded to globalization by quickly incorporating western styles with their own traditions, and has produced a number of world-class musicians within the last 30 years while revitalizing global classical music by providing new and vast audiences (as well as spectacular venues like the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing).

The year 2008 was a big one for classical music in China, as operas newly composed and freshly staged catered to the public taste for accessible entertainment. Famous classical music composers flung themselves into the task of creating music for the Beijing Olympics. Not surprisingly, they sometimes trespassed in the field of pop music.

As China attracts more and more worldwide attention, so too do its composers. Tan Dun’s opera The First Emperor had its global premiere at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2008, and his Tea had its first Chinese performance at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA). But these operas were also conceptual successes, in the sense that Tan Dun used new-media techniques and bridged cultural differences between East and West in order to make the works broadly popular. 

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Luxury Brands Refocus On China

Studies Indicate Sluggish Demand In Established Markets Will Continue As Buyers Remain Motivated In China

According to new studies, Chinese luxury enthusiasts may help buoy the global luxury market for the next few years, if not drive long-term growth

According to new studies, Chinese luxury enthusiasts may help buoy the global luxury market for the next few years, if not drive long-term growth

Luxury brands have had what can conservatively be called a tough year, with the global economic crisis putting a gaping wound in their profits in traditionally high-demand countries like the US and Japan, and recovery lagging behind expectations. These figures have been tempered somewhat by the potential of the Chinese market to soften the blow of falling demand elsewhere, if not counteract it completely. While it is still a bit quixotic to expect China to be the savior of luxury brands everywhere — since it is still very much a developing market — it does benefit luxury brands to plan ahead for the time when China is the world’s biggest luxury market, and start brainstorming on their long-term strategy for sustained growth as well as strong brand loyalty.

This week, Harvard Business looked into the Chinese luxury market, digging through statistics to discern whether this market truly is all it’s cracked up to be. While their findings suggest that hyperbolic enthusiasm about the Chinese consumer is unwarranted — as we’ve written before — they do remain bullish about the potential of this populous and fast-moving market:

New research from McKinsey & Co. indicates that, by 2015, China will be home to the world’s fourth-largest population of wealthy households, an estimated 4.4 million. McKinsey also reports that presently, about 80% of China’s wealthy are between the ages of 18 and 45 (versus 30% in the US). Jing Ulrich, the chairman of China equities at Morgan Stanley, was recently quoted in Forbes as saying of China, “With the global recovery unlikely to be smooth, domestic demand is likely to remain the primary engine of growth in the remainder of 2009.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year, Zachary Karabell argued that “the rise of the Chinese consumer is the only thing standing between them [global companies] and a decline in their business.”

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