Apr 24, 2018

Chinese Art Thefts from Museum of East Asian Art, Bath UK

Six years ago there was an attempted robbery at this museum during open hours, and on April 17, 2018, in the middle of the night, the thieves were successful. Authorities suspect they hand-picked what they stole for some client.

Read the NY Times story on this here 

Read the Art Newspaper story on this here




The New York Times recently reported on a new ivory ban in the UK that will hit art and antiquities sellers hard. Although there will be some exceptions, it will significantly hurt the trade in antiquities that contain ivory.

The article also mentions "a complaint filed on April 5 to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York [by] the Art and Antique Dealers League of America and the National Art and Antiques Dealers Association of America [who] are contesting the New York state law passed in 2014 banning the sale of antique ivory. The plaintiffs contest that this state legislation conflicts with exemptions for antiques included in prevailing federal ban on the ivory trade."

See the article here

Oct 4, 2017

Rare Chinese Porcelain Still of Interest to Collectors

The Art Daily online art news blog reported this morning that a new record has just been set for the price of a Chinese porcelain at auction. The piece in question is a rare Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) Ru guanyu ware brush washer measuring only 13 cm in diameter. Bidding started at around USD $10.2 million and the winning bid was USD $37.7 million.

Aug 8, 2017

China's Ivory-Substitute Carving Industry - Extinct Mammoth Carvings

The New York Times published an insightful article on the increased production and sale of extinct mammoth ivory, August 7, 2017.
Weaning Itself From Elephant Ivory, China Turns to Mammoths
The article notes the source of this new, legally saleable ivory is the melting permafrost of Russia’s Arctic. But it also quotes an expert, Mark Jones, associate director for policy for the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife conservation organization based in London, who said "As long as there is a legal trade in mammoth, ivory of all kinds can be laundered into it."

Carving mammoth ivory tusks at a workshop of Jin Sha Mammoth on the outskirts of Beijing

Provenance and Plunder at Museums

Aljazeera recently reported on an interesting story of interest to Asian art collectors of antiquities.
Provenance and plunder: What museums won't tell us. On how Western museums encourage and abet the smuggling of antiquities.
For the article, click here.
The next time you visit museums, consider what the labels do not say about where the art came from. As the article notes, "Museums fight against having to reveal the provenance of objects precisely because they know that many of the objects in their vast collections have illicit histories behind them."
That being said, it is important to remember that decades ago when museums began acquiring Asian pieces, the world was a different place and removal to a museum often saved pieces from ruin.

Aug 1, 2017


I just heard about this, it would be interesting to see it live. 

Jul 24, 2017

Art Market Changes - Especially at Christie's London

A recent NY Times article Live Auctions End at Christie’s South Ken. Will Online Sales Fill the Void? , though not directly related to Asian art sales, is indicative of the changes to the art market in recent years. As one of the people interviewed for the article stated: 
“More and more people want funky postwar design, pictures and decorative objects — and maybe one signature antique,” said William Rouse, managing director of Chiswick Auctions, a suburban London salesroom that is aiming to capitalize on Christie’s departure from South Kensington, one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. “They don’t want big lumps of brown furniture.”

The article also notes the growth in the sales at auction of luxury goods (such as handbags, watches, jewels), describing these as "luxurification” of the 21st-century market," and although sales in these categories were down, sales of old masters, 19th-century pictures and Russian art fared much worse in the past year.

However, Asian art, Impressionist and modern art, and postwar and contemporary art did the best at Christie's in the first half of this year. Overall, online-only auctions have increased in recent years, but Christie's is not necessarily the leader in these; as the article states, "in the first half of 2017, at a time of overall growth in auction sales, Christie’s held 35 online-only auctions compared with 118 digital sales the previous year."