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On Sunday, December 1, Sotheby’s wrapped up Beijing Art Week, a series of sales that marked the company’s first commercial auction in mainland China. The auction house offered $212 million worth of western and Chinese art, jewelry and furniture in three private sales and an auction.

During the Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art auction on Sunday night, a record was set for Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki. the artist’s 1958 oil-on-canvas abstract work, which was sold by the Art Institute of Chicago, brought $14.7 million. Wou-Ki’s previous record was set on October 5 during a sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong when a work sold for $11 million.

China is home to the fastest growing art market and the success of the Beijing sales indicates that there are active buyers on the mainland.

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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art has received a $1.8 million gift from Oman; it is the largest donation in the institution’s history. The bequest will fund a series of programs called “Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa,” which will focus on Omani art and the connections between cultures in East and North Africa and the Middle East.

The National Museum of African Art, which was founded in 1964, holds about 9,000 works, making it the largest publicly held collection of African Art in the United States. The museum’s holdings include musical instruments, sculpture, jewelry, textiles, photographs, and pottery.

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The fourth annual Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show will kick off with an opening night preview party on Thursday, November 7 at the Dallas Market Hall. Each year, collectors, curators and art lovers from across the globe flock to the high-profile event to browse the selection of furniture, silver, fine art, antiquities, porcelain, manuscripts, Americana, jewelry, textiles and more.

This year’s show will include a Designer Showcase featuring room vignettes created by five leading local interior designers. In addition, guests of the Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show will be able to take exclusive tours of the show floor with Miller Gaffney, founder of Miller Gaffney Art Advisory and one of the stars of PBS’ hit series Market Warriors.  

The Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show, which is organized by the Palm Beach Show Group, will take place through Monday, November 11.

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Thursday, 26 September 2013 18:50

Christie’s Holds First Auction in Mainland China

Christie’s held its first auction in Mainland China on Thursday, September 26, 2013. The sale included 39 paintings, sculpture, jewelry, watches and wine and garnered $24.9 million. A ruby and diamond necklace, which sold for $2.9 million was the top lot but failed to reach its high estimate of $4.6 million.

The modest sale marked the first time that an international auction house has been allowed to independently hold an auction in China. Christie’s received its license to conduct auctions in China in April and agreed not to sell any “cultural relics” dated before 1949 when the Communist Party took power.

China’s art market continues to grow at a rapid pace, making it an ideal location for international auction houses. The sale of art and antiques in China garnered $13.7 billion in 2012, making it the second largest market in the world behind the United States. The country’s strong buyer base has been active in Christie’s global auction centers in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Paris. In fact, the number of clients from Mainland China bidding at Christie’s international auctions has doubled since 2008. Christie’s presence in Shanghai will allow the auction house to sell directly to China’s growing number of wealthy buyers.  

China’s auction market is currently dominated by the country’s own Beijing Poly International and China Guardian. Sotheby’s joined forces with the state-owned Beijing GeHua Cultural Development Group last year to hold auctions in China. Sotheby’s own 80% of its venture with Beijing Gehua.

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Christie’s Geneva will offer the jewelry collection of Hélène Rochas, wife and muse of the late fashion designer Marcel Rochas, on November 12, 2013 as part of its Magnificent Jewels auction. The 18-piece collection includes a ruby brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels (estimate: $190,000-$255,000), a rare leaping tiger brooch by Rene Boivin (estimate: $190,000-$255,000) and a pink topaz, aquamarine and diamond bangle by Verdura (estimate: $127,000-$190,000).

Rochas, who passed away in 2011, also maintained an impressive art collection that included works by Edouard Vuillard, Wassily Kandinsky and four portraits of herself by Andy Warhol. In 2012, Christie’s Paris organized a sale of her art holdings, which ended up breaking four world records.

Besides Rochas’ collection, the jewelry sale will include pieces once belonging to Bolivian tycoon Simón Iturri Patiño. Highlights include an emerald and diamond necklace by Cartier London (estimate: $7 million-$10 million) and a cushion-shaped F-color diamond ring of 32.65 carats by Chaumet (estimate: $2.2 million-$2.8 million).

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Thieves have made off with valuables including priceless 18th century oil paintings from a colonial-era Roman Catholic church in Bolivia. Located in the small town of San Miguel de Tomave, the church has been looted three times in the last five years.

Churches in remote areas of Bolivia and Peru have recently fallen victim to repeated robberies. Thieves have gone so far as to create tunnels under church walls to make their way inside the structure undetected. Since 2009, Bolivian churches have allegedly been robbed 38 times of 447 objects including jewelry and silver.

Authorities claim that the thieves are stealing from the churches for collectors in Europe and the United States, where there’s a considerable market for Latin American art. Modest churches in sparsely populated areas are easy targets for the looters.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 19:10

Sotheby’s to Sell Rare Blue Diamond in Hong Kong

Sotheby’s will sell a rare round cut diamond dubbed “The Premier Blue” at the auction house’s bi-annual public sale in Hong Kong on October 7, 2013. The stone, which weighs 7.59 carats, is much larger and more vivid than other colored diamonds. Sotheby’s expects the gem to garner about $19 million, which would set a world record for the highest price paid for any diamond, per carat.

The Premier Blue will be previewed in Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta and Taiwan along with other items from the sale. According to the New York Times, Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s in Asia, said, “Since about 2006, 2007, Hong Kong has ranked alongside Geneva and New York as a center for jewelry sales. It is now the third pillar of the global jewelry market.” In addition, Asian buyers tend to favor round cuts in color, which could have influenced Sotheby’s decision to auction the diamond in Asia rather than Europe or the United States.

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A necklace by the American sculptor Alexander Calder, which was purchased at a flea market for $15 in 2005, will be sold at Christie’s this fall. The brass necklace from 1938 is expected to bring between $200,000 and $300,000.

Philadelphia resident Norma Ifill spotted the rare necklace while she was browsing a local flea market. She was drawn to the piece’s tribal aesthetic but it wasn’t until she visited a Calder jewelry exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum that she realized she had a true treasure in her possession. Ifill spoke with the exhibition’s curator and later took the necklace to the Calder Foundation in New York, where her find was deemed a genuine Calder. She also learned that the piece was once on display at the Museum of Modern Art.

The necklace will be offered on September 26, 2013 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction.

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The San Diego Sheriff’s Department released a statement on Tuesday, August, 6, 2013 asking for the public’s help in finding sculptures, jewelry and nearly a dozen paintings that were stolen from a Rancho Santa Fe home on either June 17th or June 18th. The unknown suspects made off with over $5 million in valuables that included Chinese sculptures, elaborate custom jewelry made from gold, diamonds, tourmaline and other precious gems as well as a print by Claude Monet and one by Camille Pissarro.

While detectives have not revealed the name of the homeowner or the specific address of the ransacked home, the residence was unoccupied at the time of the theft. Investigators are hoping that help from the public will allow them to locate the stolen goods and identify suspects. Authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for any useful information leading to an arrest.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013 18:28

The Newport Antiques Show Opens to the Public

The Newport Antiques Show, which is organized by the Newport Historical Society, will kick off July 25, 2013 with a gala preview. The show will open to the public on Friday, July 26 and run through Sunday, July 28. Established in 2007, the highly anticipated show presents an impressive selection of Americana, paintings, furniture, folk art, jewelry, and decorative arts.

Exhibitors at this year’s show include William Vareika Fine Arts Ltd., Oriental Rugs Ltd., Roberto Freitas American Antiques & Decorative Arts, The Cooley Gallery, Diana H. Bittel Antiques and Arader Galleries. The 2013 loan exhibit, Windows on the Past: Four Centuries of Historic New England, highlights the artifacts and 36 historic sites that make up the largest, oldest and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the country.

The Newport Antiques Show, which is held at St. George’s School in Middletown, RI, benefits the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County.

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