One lot of Asian art accounts for over 10 percent of one California antique auction’s $900,000 gross

OAKLAND, Calif. – Asian results astonished the crowd at a March 12-13 sale of fine antiques, arts and furnishings. Anticipated to be a strong sale across the board, it was not anticipated that one of the Asian lots would account for over 10 percent of the sale’s $900,000 gross.

Anyone tracking Asian antiques buying at auctions around the world is not unfamiliar with prices escalating, a trend that’s been developing over the past year. Clars has seen this grow steadily in their own sales with an increased number of Internet and phone bidders from both mainland China and Taiwan. “Astonishing” was the word Redge Martin, president of Clars Auction Gallery, used however, to describe the prices realized on their Asian lots at their March sale. While non-Asian offerings, like a Jensen sterling flatware set that sold for $18,960 and a Continental Gothic Revival tall case clock which earned $10,000 were all solidly within estimate, the Asian pieces went beyond over-the-top.

Expected to sell for $1,500 on the high side was lot# 6590, a well-carved Chinese celadon jade oval plaque measuring just 6 inches high.  “There was absolutely no reason to expect this piece to do what it did,” said Martin. Even Clars expert Asian specialists could not believe it when the price escalated in heated bidding to an “astonishing” final selling price of $94,800 going to a Taiwanese collector. 60 times it’s high estimate — that might be a new record for Clars.

And the trend continued throughout the sale. Lot #6723, an Asian celadon glazed porcelain jardinière on a footed wood stand, measuring 14 inches high, came to the sale with an estimate of $500 to $1,000.  Going for a mere 14 times it’s high estimate, it sold for $14,220. This was followed almost immediately by a set of 8 Chinese tinted ivory figural carvings of the Eight Daoist immortals which sold for $18,960.

To date for their fiscal year, Clars Auction Galley is over 50% ahead of this time last year with Asian results contributing substantially to these numbers. “While we have always been strong in the Asian category,” comments Martin. “It’s astonishing how it keeps increasing.” “It’s not just Clars,” he furthers, “this trend is happening at many auction houses around the world. We will just keep watching how this category continues to develop.”

Back to the non-Asian offering in the sale, jewelry also performed very well with a 2.07 carat brilliant diamond ring selling for $15, 405 and a demantoid garnets by the yard chain necklace earning $10,665.

Complete results of the March sale are available at Clars Auction Gallery.


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