The cautious optimism preceding the 8th annual Asia Week New York has been replaced with jubilation. Sales for the ten-day event totalled approximately US$424 million. Two years ago, Asia Week brought in US$360 million, but in 2016 sales dropped to US$130 million following several high profile raids by agents of US Homeland Security.
Some of the most influential players in the Asian antiquities market were targeted in those raids; multiple items were confiscated and arrests were made. But this year, with a record breaking 50 galleries, five auction houses and more than fifteen museums and cultural institutions participating, organisers had every reason to be confident.
Nonetheless, although overall sales numbers impressed, there is one reason not to get too comfortable. Nearly two-thirds of the total event sales, roughly US$263 million, came from one event: Christie’s Important Chinese Art From the Fujita Museum sale. The low estimate for the sale was about ten times lower than that figure, but several of the 29 items sold were exhibited throughout Asia and in New York in preparation for the auction, increasing interest. The highlight of that auction was also the highlight of the event: a Shang dynasty bronze wine vessel sold for US$37.2 million, which sold for more than six times its estimate.
Image caption: Asia Week New York 2017 Reception. March 13, 2017 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Courtesy of Asia Week New York.