Nov 26, 2014

Chinese Collector Buys Imperial Artwork for US $45 Million Dollars

Another record has been set in the Chinese art market. The Chinese collector Liu Yiqian bought a 600-year-old imperial embroidered silk artwork at a Christie’s sale on Wednesday for $348 million Hong Kong dollars ($45 million dollars), setting a record for any Chinese work of art sold by an international auction house. This is the same collector that purchased the Ming Chenghua era "chicken cup" in April this year for US$36 million dollars. He bought both pieces for his Long Museum in Shanghai. The artwork purchased is a huge thangka made of silk embroidery, depicting Raktayamari, ‘The Red Killer of Death’, a devotional Buddhist deity. Made to order for the Ming dynasty Yongle Emperor, the thangka is the only one of its kind in private hands, according to Christie’s. The two other known examples are both kept in the Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet.“It is a national treasure,” Mr. Liu, told The Wall Street Journal. “We need top art works for our museum.”

Nov 16, 2014

NEW U.S. Government Very Restrictive Ivory (and Other Endangered Species) Sales Regulations

The biggest concern in the Asian art market (and the antiques market generally) at present is the overly restrictive new regulation of the sale of objects made from endangered species (including ivory) that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has enacted this year, known as Director's Order #210, along with even more restrictive regulations promulgated by several states including New York and New Jersey (that other states are now considering). These new rules make it virtually illegal for auction houses and dealers to sell and ship most antique ivory artifacts.They are in the process of being modified, however.

A lot has been written about this by critics in the art world recently. Among the best and most concise is a commentary by Lark Mason, published in the ART NEWSPAPER, #262, Nov. 2014.
See also a short report on the NY regulations regarding the "deceptive" ivory trade, June 18, 2014, by attorney Michael McCullough of the law firm  Pearlstein & McCullough

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has a web page with useful images to help distinguish ivory from other types of animal tusks. But still this is hard for novices to do and I recommend that when in doubt, consult an expert.

For information on the ongoing saga of these regulations see the website FIXESA.ORG