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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Over USD $50 Million in Sales during March Asia Week New York 2024!

Updated: Jun 30

The March edition of Asia Week New York finished up a couple of weeks ago and I had a wonderful visit to one of my favourite cities in the world!


I was in New York for six nights to check out all the Asian art auction previews, especially at the international auction houses Bonhams, Sotheby's and Christie's. There were also new Asian-themed museum exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Asia Society New York.


For those of you who have been following my blogs and Instagram account @anthonywuart over the past 8+ years, I regularly make my way to New York for museum visits, appraisal conferences, and the Asia Week events. Despite living in Toronto, New York is just a one hour flight away, and my record door-to-door time was just under four hours.


I have been attending Asia Week New York since the late 2000's and my visits never get old. Even though the big Asian Art fair closed down a couple of years ago and the current Asian art market isn't as strong as it was since its 2013 peak, there are still numerous highlight objects available for viewing


And as a specialist in Chinese, Himalayan and Japanese artwork, I do tend to visit the previews and sales where all of these categories are represented.


Anthony Wu examining a large Qianlong-Jiaqing Chinese green and famille rose floral and fauna vase at Bonhams during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 1a. One of my first stops in New York was to Bonhams to check out their sale 'Passion and Philanthropy: Chinese Art from the Metropolitan of Art'. The sale date was 18 March 2024, and here they featured 193 pieces deaccessioned from New York's famed institution to benefit their acquisition fund.

This was the third instance over the past decade where the Met sold off small portions of their collection during the New York sales. The first was at Christie's 'Collected in America: Chinese Ceramics from the Metropolitan Museum of Art' on 15 December 2016 and this was followed by a Sotheby's sale 'Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift' on 10 September 2019.


This current Bonhams sale consisted of mostly Chinese export wares from the 17th to 18th Century and archaistic jade carvings, but they also featured some early ceramics, domestic Qing porcelain and scroll paintings.


One of the highlights from this Bonhams auction was this massive famille rose lime-green ground sgraffito vase. Formerly from the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), a renowned New York wood engraver for newspapers, the vase was dated to the Qianlong/Jiaqing reign of the late 18th to early 19th Century, and has been in the Met's collection since 1879. The vase has a well-decorated design of birds and florals on the body, and the green background has incised designs all-over. The neck also featured very powerful red dragon handles.


This large vase was estimated at USD 80/120,000 and realized a final price of USD 86,860 (approximately CAD 117,000).


Detail of a large Qianlong-Jiaqing Chinese green and famille rose floral and fauna vase at Bonhams during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 1b. A detail of the massive Chinese famille rose vase's pink bird. With a stern expression, it is standing on a large green rock and surrounded by multi-coloured florals. In the green background you can see the carefully incised sgraffito (incised) ground.


Famille verte brushpot from Bonhams sold on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 2. Another object I really liked at the Bonhams Met auction was this well-painted famille verte 'figural' brushpot from the Kangxi Period (1664-1722). The cylinder shape is typical for these types of brushpots, but this example has the addition of a beaded base and flaring lip, thus giving the vessel a more distinquished character. The design of a youthful scholar riding full speed on a donkey is also attractive.


This brushpot also came from the former collection of Samuel Putnam Avery and made its way to the Met in 1879. Despite having some condition issues, namely a few chips around the rim, this brushpot proved to be very popular and sold for USD 38,400 (approximately CAD 52,000), many times more than its auction estimate of USD 6,000/8,000.


A Chinese Imperial Jiaqing dragon circular box and cover sold on behalf of the Newark Museum at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 3a. Like Bonhams, Sotheby's New York also had a selection of Chinese porcelain wares that were being deaccessioned from a major American institution. The Newark Museum in New Jersey offered ten objects to be sold for the benefit of The Newark Museum Acquisition Endowment.


The most important piece from this group was a rare imperial gilt decorated dragon box and cover with Jiaqing mark and period (1796-1820). The cover contains two ferocious confronting dragons on a ground of blue heavenly clouds. The dragons encircle a three-character Maoqin Dian 懋勤殿 hall mark, suggesting the covered box was made for the Hall of Great Diligence, a space designed in 1535 of the Ming Dynasty within the Forbidden City in Beijing.


This box was bequeathed to the Newark Museum in 1941 from the collection of Herman A. E. (d. 1951) and Paul C. (d. 1951) Jaehne, and estimated at USD 200/300,000. The covered box saw much contested bidding and the final price surged to USD 444,500 (approximately CAD 600,000).


Reign mark of a Chinese Imperial Jiaqing dragon circular box and cover sold on behalf of the Newark Museum at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 3b. The reign mark of the covered box's base 大清嘉慶年製 daqing Jiaqing nianzhi which translates to made during the Jiaqing reign of the Qing Dynasty.


A Chinese Yongzheng yellow ground and iron red dragon bowl sold on behalf of the Newark Museum at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 4a. Also from the Sotheby's sale of objects from the Newark Museum was this gorgeous iron red and yellow ground 'dragon' bowl with Yongzheng mark and period (1723-1735).


Not only is the yellow ground exceptionally bright and fine, but the design of the sinuous dragons is quite well done. There was a large 'U' shaped restoration to the bowl's body, but it still sold for a strong USD 66,040 (approximately CAD 89,000) against an estimate of USD 40/60,000.


Reign mark of a Chinese Yongzheng yellow ground and iron red dragon bowl sold on behalf of the Newark Museum at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 4b. The base of the bowl and its reign mark 大清雍正年製 daqing Yongzheng nianzhi which translates to made during the Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty. The mark within a double square is rare for Yongzheng porcelain pieces, and suggests it was produced during the first few years of the Yongzheng reign.


Nepalese 13th Century gilt bronze standing figure of Padmapani Lokeshvara at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 5. In the Himalayan art category of the Sotheby's New York sale was this wonderful Nepalese gilt bronze figure of Padmapani Lokeshvara. The sculpture was cast during the 13th Century and depicts the lotus-bearing form of the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara.


Bodhisattvas are enlightened Buddhist beings who chose to remain on the earth to ease humanity's suffering. This figure is cast in the tribhanga counter-balance pose and has his right hand displaying vitarka mudra, the gesture of teaching. The high crown and jewels, along with the facial features and quality of the gilding, suggest this figure might have been from the early Malla Period of Nepal.


This extraordinary figure was estimated at USD 40/60,000 and sold for a reasonable (in my opinion!) USD 76,200 (approximately CAD 102,870).


Imperial Chinese painting portrait of Fu Heng dated to the Qianlong Period from the exhibition 'Eminent People of the Qing Dynasty: An Exhibition of Imperial Portraits from the Collection of Dora Wong' at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 6a. And finally at Sotheby's was a special viewing exhibition of thirteen Imperial Chinese court portraits from the renowned collection (and my good friend) Dora Wong.


The viewing exhibition was titled 'Eminent People of the Qing Dynasty: An Exhibition of Imperial Portraits from the Collection of Dora Wong', and shows a selection of Chinese paintings she acquired over the past forty years when little research was written about this category.


The image here depicts Fu Heng 傅恆 (1720-1770), the Chief Grand Councillor to the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795). This work was attributed to Ai Qimeng 艾啟蒙 (1708-1780) and Jin Tingbao 金庭標 (fl. 1757-1767) and commissioned for the Imperial court. It is inscribed with a dating of 1760 of the Qianlong reign.


Detail of an Imperial Chinese painting portrait of Fu Heng dated to the Qianlong Period from the exhibition 'Eminent People of the Qing Dynasty: An Exhibition of Imperial Portraits from the Collection of Dora Wong' at Sotheby's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 6b. A close up image of Fu Heng. You can tell the painting style is very Western-influenced. In addition to the realistic face, you can almost feel the different textures in the dragon robe, the court necklace, and even the peacock feather in the hat. The script at the top is written in both Chinese and Manchurian.


Song Dynasty Ge ware foliate dish at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 7a. Christie's at Rockefeller Plaza also had a series of Asian art sales that included Chinese, Himalayan and Japanese works of art.


One of the stars of their show in the Chinese art category was this Ge foliate dish dated to the Southern Song to Yuan Dynasty (1127-1368). In the dish's cataloguing, it was described as 'superb and very rare', and this statement is absolutely correct! It was such an honour to have the opportunity to examine a dish of this distinguished significance.


Ge 哥 wares were produced from one of the 'Five Great Kilns' 五大名窯 of the Song Dynasty, and intact examples that are highly published seldom appear on the open market.


These types of Ge ceramics were revered for centuries and highly sought after by collectors in Asia, North America and Europe. Most of the pieces are small in size yet densely potted, and can take on the form of dishes, small vases, brushwashers and cups. They all feature a prounounced and deliberate crackling to the glaze. In between the larger dark crackles are smaller crackles that resemble gold threads.


The estimate for this Ge dish was USD 1.8/2.5 million which seems high, but when you read the list of former owners and past literature, its history is quite impressive.


Former owners of this Ge foliate dish include:

C. F. Yao (Yao Chang Foo, 1884-1963) Collection, New York.

Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978) Collection.

Property from an American Private Collection; Christie's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 151.

Sen Shu Tey, Tokyo.

Linyushanren Collection, Japan


Past publications of the Ge foliate dish:

H. Trubner, Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period through Ch'ien Lung, Los Angeles, 1952, p. 69, no. 111.

Sen Shu Tey, The Collection of Chinese Art - Special Exhibition ‘Run Through 10 Years’, 2006, p. 48, no. 57.

Christie's, The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 188-191, no. 80.

R. Scott, ‘Chinese Classic Wares from a Japanese Collection: Song Ceramics from the Linyushanren Collection’, Arts of Asia, March-April 2014, pp. 97-108, fig. 22.


Exhibition history of the Ge foliate dish:

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum, Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period through Ch'ien Lung, 14 March-27 April 1952.

Tokyo, Sen Shu Tey, Special Exhibition ‘Run Through 10 Years’, 2006.

Christie's, The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 22-27 November 2012; New York, 15-20 March 2013; London, 10-14 May 2013.


There was really no surprise then that this marvellous foliate dish sold at Christie's for USD 1.865 million (approximately CAD 2.51 million).


Reverse of a Song Dynasty Ge ware foliate dish at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 7b. The reverse of this very rare Ge foliate dish. You can see all the fine crackles in the glaze, the beautiful 'uneven' foot rim, and the spur marks on the base.


Large Yongzheng blue and white dragon charger from T. Y. Chao at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 8a. Another Chinese ceramic I really enjoyed examining at Christie's was their cover lot, a large blue and white 'dragon' porcelain dish with Yongzheng mark and period (1723-1735).


This spectacular dish was in excellent condition and depicts a large five-clawed dragon in the middle encircling a stylized shou 壽 longevity character. There are smaller dragons along the walls of the dish and very fine pattern of scrolling waves on the border.


This piece once belonged to the T. Y. Chao Family Trust. T.Y. Chao (Chao Tsong-Yea) 趙從衍 (c. 1911-1999) was a major shipping tycoon from Hong Kong who founded Wah Kwong Maritime Transport. He was also a major collector of Chinese porcelain and member of Hong Kong's prestigious Min Chiu Society 敏求精舍, a revered group of Chinese art collectors who met monthly to further the pursuit of Chinese art connoisseurship through lectures and exhibitions.


This amazing blue and white 'dragon' dish held an estimate of USD 300/500,000 and realized a strong price of USD 819,000 (CAD 1.105 million).


Yongzheng reign mark on the reverse of a blue and white dragon charger from T. Y. Chao at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 8b. The base of the large dish and its reign mark 大清雍正年製 daqing Yongzheng nianzhi which translates to made during the Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty.


Tibetan gilt bronze fragment of a 15th Century Nagaraja from Densatil at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 9. Christie's also offered a fine selection of Himalayan artwork during Asia Week New York. One of my favourite objects was this beautiful Tibetan gilt bronze fragment of a Nagaraja. Dated to the 15th century and probably from the Densatil site, a Buddhist monastery renowned for their large and heavily casted Buddhist sculptures.


This particular sculpture of a serpent king was extremely elegant with the arms raised in an offering pose. The details are so fascinating including the meticulous serpent crown, ornate jewels and pristine face. In Buddhism, a Nagaraja is often depicted as a guardian who protects the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and other enlightened beings.


Despite being a fragment, this wonderful sculpture sold for USD 44,100 (approximately CD 59,500) against an estimate of USD 15/20,000.


Complete set of Hokusai's Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 10a. In the Japanese category at Christie's was one of the most talked about lots for all of 2024! Their major highlight was a complete set of Katsushika Hokusai’s seminal woodblock print series, 'The Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji' 富嶽三十六景 Fugaku Sanjūrokkei.


This was the first time in over twenty years a complete set from of the series appeared on the auction block. The set comprises of the original thirty-six prints from c. 1831, including the three most sought-after views: 'The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,' 'South Wind, Clear Sky' (Red Fuji), and 'Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit.' In addition, the set is accompanied by the ten extremely rare 'supplementary' prints produced between 1831 and 1934.


This important lot belonged to Professor Jitendra V. Singh who taught at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After visiting Japan many times, his fascination with the Thirty-Six views started in 2013 at the age of 60. He then made it his life goal to complete the entire set. The New York Times wrote an article about Professor Singh's passionate journey about collecting this revered Hokusai series.


The estimate for this incredible set of the Thirty-Six Views was USD 3/5 million and ended up selling for USD 3.559 million (approximately CAD 4.8 million).


Hokusai's Great Wave Off Kanagawa at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 10b. A detail of The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, the most famous view from the complete set of the Thirty-Six View of Mount Fuji sold at Christie's during Asia Week. This particular example has a very good impression and colours, including some remnants of the orange-pink clouds in the sky.


Hiroshi Yoshida's Ajmer Gate, Jaipur, featured at Christie's during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 11. If you have been following my posts over the years, you would know that I love Japanese shin-hanga woodblock prints (new wave prints). These were produced during the first half of the 20th century and featured more Western aesthetics in shading, colours, composition and perspective when compared to the traditional ukiyo-e (floating word) examples.


The Christie's Japanese auction featured important works by shin-hanga artists like Kawase Hasui, Charles Bartlett and Ohara Koson. They also had a selection of rare scenes from Hiroshi Yoshida's (1876-1950) trip to India.


One of my favourite prints from this series was his Ajmer Gate, Jaipur (1931). The condition and colours were prisitine, and I loved the two elephants in the foreground contrasting with the imposing architecture in the back. This print was conservatively estimated at USD 1,000/1,500 and ended up realizing USD 13,860 (approximately CAD 18,700).


A Yongzheng claire-de-lune blue glazed bottle vase from Freemans-Hindman during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 12a. This trip to Asia Week New York also featured hundreds of objects from regional auction houses like Doyle, Heritage and iGavel. One of the objects many collectors and dealers were discussing was this small claire-de-lune bottle vase with a rare Yongzheng mark to the base.


This small bottle vase appeared at the newly merged Hindman (Chicago) and Freemans (Philadelphia) auction firms, now forming one of the largest auction presences in North America. The vase was conservatively dated to the 18th/19th Century and estimated at USD 1,500/2,500. It once belonged to the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann III, Indian Hill, Ohio.


After a lengthy bidding battle, the small vase ended up realizing USD 444,500 (approximately CAD 600,000) almost 200 times more than its high end estimate! This was definitely one of the surprises from this edition of Asia Week!


A rare Yongzheng mark on a claire-de-lune blue glazed bottle vase from Freemans-Hindman during Asia Week New York 2024

Image 12b. The base of the small claire-de-lune bottle vase and its unusual reign mark 大清雍正年製 daqing Yongzheng nianzhi which translates to made during the Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty.


Celebrating Asia Week New York March 2024 with Asian art friends at the big part at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image 13. And finally a group photo! Asia Week New York will host a big party each March (not during the September sales!) at the Met falls on the Monday evening following the first set of weekend previews.


This is an absolutely massive event with approximately 500 invitees for people in the Asian art field. Guests include sponsors, museum curators, academics, scholars, dealers, gallery owners, auction house specialists and consultants (like me!).


Everyone in attendance has to be (mostly) well-dressed and (mostly) well-behaved. The Asian art galleries are opened for two hours and there are numerous speeches, appetizers and drinks.


In this photo I am standing with various auction house and dealer friends in the Asian art field who work througout North America. We are in front of the internationally renowned Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) stucco mural of the Medicine Buddha.


And that's it for this blog and once again, many thanks for reading! At the time of writing this, I am in the midsts of my Asian art previews at Heffel. I was in Vancouver last week to finalize the sale and now I am back in Toronto helping out with the previews. If you have time, please stop by the Heffel office on 13 Hazelton Ave. This Asian art online sale runs from April 4-25, and I will be posting some results in May.

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