On Sept 12, 2015 at Gianguan Auctions New York, Loquat, an ink painting by HH Dorje Chang Buddha III, sold for $10,200,000, setting a world record price of $1.7M per square foot. It is the highest price by dimension ever paid for a Chinese painting at auction. The news, which comes amidst concerns about the strength of the Chinese art market in the current period of correction, has been covered by more than 300 media outlets across the globe.
Loquat is exceptional because HH Dorje Chang Buddha III treated the ink as if it were as precious as gold. There are no broken strokes or extraneous marks on the image that focuses on an ascending branch laden with fruit. Elegant by design, the deft brush work culminates in a visual simplicity that belies the hidden power within. The painting carries the bell seal of Dorje Chang Buddha III and a three-dimensional finger print Gui Yuan. The relatively small work of art measures just 31 1/2” X 27 3/8”.
The buyer is an unnamed Asian woman who bid in-person against a field of European and American collectors. Artnet.com, the leading record keeping art-world monitor, recorded the sale in its price database.
As for the impact of the record-breaking sale in an unsteady market, Mrs. Lum, gallery director of Gianguan Auctions said, “The response to this magical painting was overwhelming, especially in the middle of a market correction.”
Further commenting on the correction in the Chinese art market, Mrs. Lum stated Chinese collectors have begun diverting their art investments into real estate. To offset this, the gallery has countered with an action plan that optimizes the reach of the Internet through an Internet-based auction platform. A second-tier plan has been the establishment of a network of autonomous sales rooms in ten countries that operate under the Gianguan Auction banner.
As a result, the auction house has seen Chinese bidders from remote corners of the world entering the market. Their activities are approaching the the mid-range, an encouraging sign that the market is expanding, Mrs. Lum said. She also noted that there is a strong contingent of international collectors that have always been fascinated by the Chinese aesthetic. They are perhaps best exemplified the late New York collector and dealer Robert Hatfield Ellsworth whose collection sold at Christie’s in the spring, 2015. This widespread interest has not waned in all the decades since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1664) when China was “discovered” by Western travelers and missionaries.
Gianguan Auctions, the longest established Chinese-American owned auction house in New York, is now in its thirteenth year. Founder Kwong Lum is a classical artist, collector and appraiser. Originally, the gallery fulfilled his vision as a collector to provide a local salesroom for the finest Chinese paintings and works of art. Today, Gianguan Auctions is an internationally recognized venue.
According to Mrs. Lum the gallery will soon be re-locating to a prime midtown Manhattan block near the Museum of Modern Art. The move to Manhattan’s uptown art corridor reflects the Gianguan Auctions continued growth and positions it firmly among the top international gallery’s for Chinese art. For details, please visit www.gianguanauctions.com
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