A selection of 1,695 Chinese artworks and antiques offered at Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonhams during the 14th annual Asian Art in London event last week totalled a record 57.4 million pounds ($92 million) even while 44% of the lots failed to sell.
London dealers told Bloomberg that Chinese buyers were facing tightened credit this season.
Among the auction highlights was a Qianlong dynasty Imperial vase that sold for 9 million pounds to an Asian phone buyer who bid the piece up to 10 times its upper estimate at Bonhams.
Just 48 percent of the 557 lots at Sotheby's sold. Among those passed was an 18th-century Doucai “Lotus and Bats” jar and cover that was discovered in a Shropshire home. The piece was estimated at 300,000 pounds to 500,000 pounds, a value that some said was too high.
Among the gallery offerings, a superb private collection of 17th-century Chinese furniture, all made of the South-east Asian hardwood that has come to be known as huanghuali, and priced from $60,000 to more than $1 million, sold very well at the Mayfair dealer Eskenazi.