By TIMOTHY CHUI
ART BASEL IS expecting sales at its upcoming Hong Kong event to mimic robust figures from their late December Miami confab as art dealers and auctioneers navigate a less heady and volatile market.
Art Basel head of Asia Adeline Ooi told reporters Monday afternoon, “Its not an easy time economically speaking,” but added robust sales at their Miami show which served as a litmus test for the season indicated exhibitors can expect brisk business at the Hong Kong show just three weeks away. The fair is being held from March 24 to 26.
Ooi said this year’s Asian instalment had already garnered out sized support from Asian collectors while an unprecedented showing by of museum groups and their patrons, more than 50 at the moment, foreshadowed a heavier institutional presence – which was responsible for buying most of the 2015’s show’s major installations.
“Inadvertently,” Japan will feature prominently in the Hong Kong show with 31 galleries from the country part of the show, Ooi said, with Tatsuo Miyajima responsible for a colossal light installation running up the height of the International Commerce Centre while The Hong Kong Art Centre’s collectors show includes works from seven of the county’s most important collectors.
The global market remains cautiously optimistic after showing sights of a rebound early this year following a 10 per cent decline witnessed over 2014 as investors ply their cash into art in light of volatile equities.
Chinese art collector driven sales cooled following a record US$179 (Bt6.37 billion) million paid for a Picasso in May 2015, with 2015’s total take US$2 billion shy of US$17.9 billion in 2014, according to auction database Artprice.
Prices are up 7.2 per cent according to president Thierry Ehrmann, however the action at Christies’ and Sotheby’s art sales earlier this year has been lacklustre with many masterpieces failing to live up to estimates or even reserve price.
London art fair chief executive Nazy Vassegh said the showings were indicative of a long awaited correction in the market which was more price sensitive and selective.