Saturday, 22 December 2018

Who Says Traditional and Modern Furnishings Can't Compliment Each Other?

I love what designer, Jared Hughes, did to his place in Atlanta!

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

On behalf of Naik Antiques and Oriental Gifts, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all Christians a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! May 2019 bring us all more happiness, joy, laughter, health and wealth!

A fine Zisha teapot by the late renowned potter, Jiang Rong

Sunday, 16 December 2018

How To Read Symbols In Chinese Art

I found specialist Ivy Chan's write-up on how to read symbols in Chinese art quite informative:p Let me know what you think.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Specialist Talks About 1000-Year-Old Chinese Painting by Su Shi

I must admit that up until recently, I wasn't aware that Su Shi's Wood and Rock scroll painting was almost sold at a private sale. I wouldn't be surprised if Christie's decision to sell The Wood and Rock scroll painting at a public auction played a part in making it the most expensive object ever sold by Christie's in Asia (

Check out what the specialist said about the 1000-year-old Chinese painting in the link below:

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Old Money: Chinese Farmer Digs Up 460kg of Ancient Coins Dating Back to Jesus’ Time

I think it's worth noting that despite being so old, some of the ancient coins (mentioned in the link below) had to be sold off as regular copper as they were deemed not valuable by archaeologists.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Year End Sales!

Dear readers, 

It's that time of the year again where we start (window) shopping for presents and home decoration. At Naik Antiques and Oriental Gifts, we have something for it a collectible, gift or souvenir. So, please feel free to drop by and take advantage of our year end sales! Please visit to view the rest of our other items. For further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact me at +6018 3867939.


May Naik

Christie's to Present Kangxi Twelve Blue and White 'Month' Cups

The one thing I learnt after watching the video (below) featuring the Kangxi Twelve Blue and White 'Month' Cups is this..... an item, in this case, a cup, can still fetch 'millions' on its own at an auction even though it originally existed as a set of 12 cups.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

If I could tell you one thing - Asian art trends

“Damaged but good”

Kate Hunt

Christie’s head of sale for Chinese ceramics and works of art

As prices have gone higher and supply is reducing, many collectors are attracted by something that is good but damaged. Ten years ago they would not sell. Now buyers do not have a choice. Kate Hunt of Christie’s has certainly observed this at the top end of the market at a moment when perfect ‘mark and period’ ceramics are no longer a financially viable option for most buyers.
The multi-estimate response to the (often damaged) Chinese ceramics deaccessioned from the Metropolitan Museum of Art sold by Christie’s New York in 2016 provides a good example. “However, for more commonly seen pieces, buyers are less tolerant,” says Hunt. “A well-painted blue and white Kangxi bowl, for example, worth £1500 in a perfect state, will maybe fetch around £150 if cracked.”

“Location, location, location”

Colin Sheaf

Global head of Asian art, Bonhams

Perhaps more than for any other field, location of sale remains vital for buying and selling Chinese art – despite globalisation and the rise of online.
The Asian art market has settled into a “well-defined pattern”, says Colin Sheaf, Bonhams’ global head of Asian art, “around the three major world centres of New York, London and Hong Kong – with different categories selling well in each city”.
Export ware sells best in its original destination markets of the US East Coast and Western Europe, archaic bronzes too as they remain outside the ‘Chinese taste’ and “sell better in New York and London than anywhere else”.
Meanwhile, the best imperial ceramics and white jade are sold in Hong Kong, such as a pair of imperial Qianlong pale green jade wine jue vessels, pictured above, sold for HK$11.1m (£1.1m) (including buyer’s premium) at Bonhams’ Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art in May.
Bonhams’ sale last month of the Presencer Collection of Buddhist Art took place in Hong Kong, “now one of the two most important places, alongside New York, for selling Tibetan and Himalayan art”.

“Early Chinese ceramics on the rise”

Robin Fisher

Director, Eastern, Oriental Art & Ceramics, Mallams

Chinese ‘classic age’ ceramics – in financial terms the poor relation of Qing magnificence – are enjoying an upturn in demand, one that has followed both the appearance of some fine early material on the market and a number of museum exhibitions on the subject in the Far East.
“A strong trend that we have seen in our sales has been the enduring popularity of ceramics from the Song dynasty (960-1279),” says Robin Fisher at Mallams.
“The monochrome glazes, restrained shapes, and organic decoration developed in this experimental era are easily identifiable, and part of the appeal is that the period’s influence can still be seen clearly in the pottery of the East and West today. This resonates with modern collectors.”
This market continues to offer value. Top-end Song has seen a shift in prices evidenced by Christie’s four-part sale of the Linyushanren collection and this has begun to filter through to mid-range material.
However, plenty of well-provenanced Song dynasty ceramics are still available. Qingbai ceramics with their distinctive bluish-white glaze can be bought in the £1000-3000 range.
A variety of Song ceramics are included in Mallams’ October 31 Chinese and Japanese art sale. Many are part of a private local collection formed by the vendor’s father while working in the diplomatic service in Hong Kong from 1950-80.

“Momentum behind Chinese paintings”

Lazarus Halstead

Head Of Asian Art At Chiswick Auctions

Chinese paintings have traditionally been the preserve of the selling centres of Hong Kong, New York and particularly mainland China where paintings made up close to half of all Chinese art sales in 2017.
But Lazarus Halstead, head of Asian art at Chiswick Auctions in west London, believes collectors and dealers are increasingly looking further afield for their quarry.
Chinese paintings are still to be found in English collections – entering these shores since the 19th century by the way of Western missionaries, diplomats and Chinese and Hong Kong immigrants. “The prices achieved in London are now closing in on those of Hong Kong,” he says.
Halstead is not alone in suggesting some works, particularly those directly attributable to an individual artist, may be undervalued.
He says: “Quite unlike much Chinese porcelain, which was generally mass produced by a large number of artisans working together, paintings are the result of an individual artist and his style and character. While ceramics remain the dominant force in the market, paintings could yet surpass other categories to become the most expensive category within Chinese art.”

“Lacquer is creeping up on porcelain”

Roger Keverne

London dealer in Chinese works of art

London dealer Roger Keverne says a selective market has created opportunities for the buyer who is not necessarily focused on the collecting zeitgeist.
Keverne says that ‘Chinese taste’, the phrase associated with the Chinese domestic market that has come to mean Qing porcelain, white jades and Beijing enamels, is evolving.
“There is now more interest in later Chinese bronzes, ‘classic age’ ceramics, in Ming and earlier jades, and in jades in ‘unfashionable’ colours. Spinach jade, for example, was important in the 18th century and personally appreciated by the emperor himself. It was prized in the Western art market from the 1920s to 1960s and then fell out of favour, but is now coming back.”
The market is also beginning to correct the gulf that exists between porcelain and less fashionable mediums such as lacquer. “Lacquer is creeping up, as it is much rarer than other types of Chinese works of art. I am finding it harder to buy the good things.”

“Young Chinese collectors are interested in Buddhism”

Giuseppe Eskenazi


The taste of mainland Chinese buyers is changing, notes London Chinese art specialist Giuseppe Eskenazi.
“Demand for porcelain, that used to be focused on Qing and Ming, is definitely seeing a shift to the earlier dynasties and recently we are seeing greater demand, particularly from mainland Chinese buyers, for later (Yuan and Ming) Chinese bronzes. These bronzes are also being sold at auctions in Shanghai and Beijing – that did not happen before.”
Crucially in these neglected areas (less fashionable than archaic bronzes and pieces from the Qing imperial household), supply is currently relatively plentiful. “If there isn’t the supply, the demand is not there either. Buyers want to collect in areas where they have a chance to buy something.”
The dealer believes a generation of buyers – a second wave of collectors following the wake of those who entered the market a decade ago – is beginning to make its presence felt.
“In the last two years mainland Chinese collectors have expressed particular interest in Buddhist sculpture. Many of these younger buyers, coming from a non-religious Communist background, now want to rediscover their culture and there has been a resurgence in interest in Buddhism generally.”

Sunday, 11 November 2018

In Search of the Real Thing: China’s Quest to Buy Back Its Lost Heritage

Last month, at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, a Chinese 18th-century Imperial porcelain “poppy” bowl sold for $21.6 million. At the same auction, an elaborately decorated “fish” vase, also thought to be of Imperial provenance from the Qianlong era, raised $19 million.
Buoyed by a surging economy, Chinese dealers and collectors have since the mid 2000s been bidding formidable sums for the finest artworks from their country’s past. But in recent years, as China’s economic growth has slowed, the market for its antiques has become less frothy.
Chinese buyers have recently found an appreciation of the rarefied field of Buddhist sculpture, an example of which reached an auction high of $30 million in 2014. The enthusiasm might be viewed as a sign of what Ms. Hunt, the Christie’s specialist, identified as maturity in the market.
With the United States no longer threatening to impose a 25 percent import tariff on Chinese antiques — a move that could have benefited Europe’s art trade — London is faced with ever-diminishing supplies of quality pieces.
Repatriated Chinese antiques generally don’t come back. Those pieces that do arrive in Britain from China are often not what they seem, according to John Axford, an Asian art specialist at Woolley & Wallis, a British auction house.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Chinese Dish From Carlow Priced To Make Over €40,000 in Sale of Asian Items

Lot 93, an enamel fish basin which would “keep a drowsy emperor awake”

It’s fair to say that Western gardeners don’t pay much attention to the humble chrysanthemum. In Chinese culture the plant has fared rather differently. Inspired by its ability to resist winter chills, Chinese emperors drank wines laced with chrysanthemum, poets praised what they called “the petals of longevity”, and the intricate forms of chrysanthemum flowers came to figure prominently in Chinese art.  
Symbolically the flower is associated with long life, good fortune and the season of autumn, so it’s appropriate that the most expensive piece in Adam’s first-ever specialist auction of Fine Oriental Ceramics, Sculpture and Art is a green “chrysanthemum dish” (Lot 74, €40,000-€60,000).
Why such a high estimate for such a tiny dish? 
“It dates from the Yongzheng period, which was quite a short one, 1723 to 1735, and porcelain from that time is known for its high technical quality,” says Ronan Flanagan of Adam’s fine art department. “Porcelains were moving away from blue and white, and coloured glazes were the order of the day. The chrysanthemum dishes are well known to the market, and highly collectible.”

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Beijing’s Art Auctioneers Aim At Western Duopoly

Chinese art auction giants are aiming at the duopoly of Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but it looks a long shot. State-backed behemoth Poly International and China Guardian, both Beijing-based, now dominate the $7.1 billion global market for Chinese art and antiques. Having crushed smaller local rivals, they are expanding abroad. But their parochial, state-protected nature hobbles them. The Western houses’ offshore share looks safe for now.

The meteoric rise of Chinese auctioneers can be partly attributed to laws restricting foreigners from selling antiquities on the mainland – given a history of Western imperialists sneaking precious artefacts out of the country. That helped China’s Poly Auction, the world’s third largest auction company, rake in sales of $1.6 billion in 2017, according to a report by Art Basel and UBS; Guardian logged over $1 billion.

Dominance at home freed Poly and Guardian to compete abroad. Guardian founder Chen Dongsheng, for example, took a near 14 percent stake in the Sotheby’s two years ago, becoming its largest shareholder. Poly has since set up shop in Sydney, Los Angeles, Tokyo and New York.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The 5 Biggest Myths About the Chinese Art Market—and the Inconvenient Realities That May Give Investors Pause

Myth 1: The market for Chinese art is a juggernaut. 

Reality: Not exactly. The market is growing—but only at the very top end.

On the surface, it all looks fairly robust. In 2017, auction sales of Chinese art and antiques reversed two years of decline—which had coincided with similar downturns around the world—and grew 7 percent year-on-year, to $7.1 billion, according to the latest Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report produced by artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA).
Beneath the banner figures, however, there are signs that the recovery of Chinese art could be a bit of a dead cat bounce. First, the total is still down substantially from the market’s record high of more than $10 billion in 2011. Second, the numbers—as in the rest of the global art market—are considerably distorted by a thin top end.

Myth 2: It’s only a matter of time before the art markets in Shanghai and Beijing catch up with Hong Kong.

Reality: This is an extremely uphill battle—and one that few seem interested in waging.

Despite their growing presence in Hong Kong, even the big guns from the West have had trouble going deeper into the market in China. Sotheby’s, which opened a joint venture in Beijing with the state-owned Gehua Art Company in 2012, hasn’t held an auction there since 2013. “We have a long way to go before making Beijing and Shanghai as competitive as Hong Kong,” Kevin Ching, the chief executive of Sotheby’s Asia, acknowledges.

Christie’s presence is also limited. The auction house landed in Shanghai to much fanfare and ribbon cutting in 2013, but it now has just one dedicated week of sales and events each year, in September. Rebecca Wei, president of Christie’s Asia, emphasizes her auction house’s commitment to the country but defines its presence as mostly a brand-building exercise for now.

Myth 3: China’s collectors default on art payments left and right.

Reality: This isn’t the whole story. Some of these collectors are just trying to avoid ending up with a forgery.

According to the most recent data, which CAA verified against tax filings, more than half of all money pledged at auction had not actually been paid nearly six months after the winning bids were placed. Analyzing data from 358 auction houses, the artnet and CAA report finds that 51 percent of the total value of sales on the mainland in 2017 had not been fully paid up by May 15, 2018, an increase from the already dismal 49 percent in 2016 and 41 percent the previous year. Of the 18 lots that sold for more than ¥100 million ($14.2 million), only two were paid for in full by this time.

Nevertheless, research suggests that the growing problem may be more nuanced than it seems—and that the blame for nonpayment may not rest solely with the absentee buyers.

Myth 4: Chinese collectors are primarily interested in Chinese art.

Reality: This is changing—fast.

“I would describe the market in China as stable for us, but Chinese buyers’ purchases of Western art have increased most significantly,” says Rebecca Wei. In the first half of 2018, 12 percent of total sales at Christie’s were made in Asia, while Asian buying as a whole accounted for 24 percent ($960 million) of worldwide sales for the same period. Of the money spent by the Asian buyers, Wei notes, 60 percent was for non-Asian pieces (including luxury items), up from 48 percent during the equivalent period last year.

Myth 5: Western collectors are becoming increasingly interested in Chinese art.

Reality: Sit back…this is going to take a while.

Most Chinese artists—apart from a few high-profile contemporary practitioners—have experienced scant interest from Western collectors. And the mainland galleries that support and promote Chinese art have yet to make their presence felt much beyond Hong Kong.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Chinese Artist Fears Ink Painting Tradition Is Being Tarnished By Need To Stay Relevant

Luo Ying is a purist. The professor of traditional Chinese painting practises what she teaches: her classical ink landscape paintingsborrow techniques and styles of brushwork used as far back as the Song dynasty (960 – 1279AD).

“Chinese ink painting is the quintessence of our nation’s heritage. It is a timeless, classical art form that we can proudly show off to the world. There is no need to adulterate it with contemporary elements,” says the 44-year-old Hangzhou native at her first exhibition in Hong Kong.

Luo fears that clumsy attempts to make Chinese ink art relevant to today’s world can take the focus away from traditional techniques and the underlying philosophy of the ancient art form. “Showing figures wearing face masks to make a point about air pollution is a bad idea, I think. You can watch the news if you want to find out about current affairs. Chinese paintings are not supposed to be about that.”

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Ancient Chinese Painting Expected To Fetch $51 Million

Hong Kong (AFP) - A nearly 1000-year-old ink painting by one of China's greatest literati masters Su Shi is expected to fetch US$51 million at auction, Christie's said Thursday as the work went on view in Hong Kong.
The Song Dynasty artwork created by Su is "one of the world's rarest Chinese paintings," said the auction house.
Entitled "Wood and Rock," the ink-on-paper handscroll depicts a dragon-like old tree with withered branches and a sharp rock resting at its root.
The versatile literati, also known as Su Dongpo is one of the most important cultural figures in Chinese history and was an esteemed scholar, poet, prose-writer, painter, calligrapher and statesman.
The 185.5cm-long scroll is inscribed with calligraphy and the poems of four important literati of the 11th century in China, and also exhibits the seals of 41 collectors.
The painting will be on view until September 1 and will go under the hammer on November 26 as part of Christie's Hong Kong Autumn Sale.
Stone said the artwork is expected to attract interests from outside China.
"It's an international masterpiece instead of just a Chinese masterpiece," he added.
In 2010, "Dizhuming", a Chinese calligraphy scroll by Huang Tingjian -- Su Shi's student -- sold for $64 million at Poly Auction in Beijing.$51-million/

I must admit the eye-popping figure Christie's is expecting to fetch for Su Shi's Wood and Rock painting is hard to ignore. However, I find it extremely hard to ignore the fact that Su Shi's student's work managed to sell for a whooping $13million more than the estimated amount of Su Shi's painting! And mind you, that was 8 years ago. Maybe collecting an apprentice's work of art is not such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Chinese Art and Antiquities Spared From Trump Tariffs, For Now

Trump ordered his administration to impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods next week and to raise the rate to 25 percent in January if Beijing refuses to offer trade concessions. Among items removed from the initial list of goods targeted for duties are those covering paintings, sculptures, collages, ceramics and historical collectibles, along with antiques older than 100 years.

Critics of the tariff plan said it would discourage private collectors and dealers from acquiring Chinese art and cultural items, and because museums rely on donations, they and the viewing public would suffer. They also questioned the effectiveness of trying to spur U.S. production or change China’s trade behavior by targeting art.

Global Sales

China is the world’s No. 2 art market, accounting for 21 percent of sales by value, behind the U.S. at 42 percent, according to the Art Market 2018 report from Art Basel and UBS Group AG. Sales in the global art market reached $63.7 billion in 2017, up 12 percent from 2016, according to the report.

Imports originating from China last year included $107.2 million for century-old antiques and $66.6 million for paintings, drawings and pastels by hand, according to U.S. Census data.

Still, Chinese art could be put back in the line of fire.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Calling All Collectors to Join Us At Our First Monthly Sale!

Dear readers,

I'm delighted and excited to announce that Naik Antiques and Oriental Gifts will be having our first monthly sales soon! Apart from our usual evaluation of items from 3.30pm - 5pm, we are inviting collectors who are looking to sell off their collection/inheritance to join us! Collectors/sellers can display up to 3 small items at our shop on the date and time stipulated below:

Date: 29/9/18 (Saturday)

Time: 10.30am - 5.30pm

111M, Jln SS21/37,
Damansara Utama

Interested parties can PM me at 018 3867939 for more information. First come, first serve basis.

Cheers and hope u all have a great weekend!

May Naik

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Abu Dhabi Delays Exhibition of Da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci's painting "Salvator Mundi" at the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been indefinitely postponed, authorities said Monday.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism announced the delay on Twitter, saying "more details will be announced soon."

It was to be displayed from Sept. 18. The National, a state-aligned English-language newspaper in Abu Dhabi, wrote online Monday that "speculation suggests the museum might be waiting for its one-year anniversary on Nov. 11" to unveil it.

The full article is available in the link below:

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Rare Chinese ‘Da Vinci’ Scroll May Set Asian Art Auction Record By Frederik Balfour

An extremely rare, 11th-century Chinese scroll could set an auction price record for an Asian artwork, when it goes on the block at Christie’s November Hong Kong sale.
Estimated in excess of HK$400 million ($51 million), the work is only one of two known scrolls produced by Song dynasty artist Su Shi, and the first to ever appear at auction, Christie’s said. The other resides in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.
"This is simply the best Chinese painting you could possibly get," said Jonathan Stone, co-chairman of Christie’s Asian Art department, who likened the piece’s significance and rarity to that of " Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo Da Vinci. "In the purely market sense, there is comparability."

Sunday, 26 August 2018

How Art May Become A Casualty of US-China Trade War By Scott Reyburn

The latest list of targeted Chinese goods ran to 205 pages. It included sand blasting machines; eels, fresh or chilled (excluding fillets); hats; and, at the bottom of the last page, paintings and drawings executed entirely by hand, original sculptures, and antiques more than 100 years old.
The tariffs would apply to all artworks that originated in China, regardless of how they entered the United States. That means American buyers could be required to pay 25 percent more for a Ming dynasty bowl sold by a British owner at an auction in New York, as well as for a painting by a young Beijing-based artist at a gallery in Hong Kong.
The announcement has caused outrage in the art world.
James Lally, the founder of J.J. Lally & Co., a dealer based in New York that specializes in Asian art, said that the proposed tariffs were "a matter of great concern" to museums, collectors, curators and dealers worldwide.
Sotheby's, Christie's and the Asia Week New York association of dealers said in a written complaint that the United States, not China, would be affected most.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Damaged Chinese Vases Still Pack A Punch At Auction By Roland Arkell

In recent years, as prices for the best Qing porcelain has spiralled, buyers have shown more tolerance towards damaged pieces. A similar 13in (32cm) vase from the preceding Qianlong period (1735-96) in broken condition ‘sold’ at Eastbourne Auctions earlier this year for £70,000 against a £100 estimate.
After the buyer failed to pay, it was reoffered on June 8 with bidders asked to provide a deposit of £5000. It sold this time at £53,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium).

Sunday, 22 July 2018

A Fine Imperial Famille Rose Bowl with Gold-plated Enamels Featuring Scenic Landscape For Sale.

A fine imperial famille rose bowl with gold-plated enamels featuring scenic landscape.
Diameter - 15cm

Qianlong mark

Interested parties can contact May at +6018 3867939 or write to

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Collecting Guide: 7 Things to Consider When Collecting Chinese Porcelains

1. Examine decoration.
Chinese-taste pieces created for domestic consumption are almost always decorated with Chinese motifs, such as flowers, landscapes, Buddhist emblems and so on. Those bound for the West often incorporate Western themes or designs, which the artists would have received from foreign traders.

2. Chinese-taste motifs.
The dragon, which symbolises imperial power, is one of the most frequent motifs in Chinese porcelains. ‘It is a symbol of the emperor and one of the most sought after decorations for today’s Chinese collectors.

The imperial dragon appears on the finest of porcelains created for the emperor, which also bear imperial reign marks. Eventually, the dragon became an enduring motif and appears on a variety of wares, including imperial, domestic and export.
Pieces can range in value: ‘Much depends on rarity, condition, and provenance,’ says Gristina. ‘There are definitely affordable imperial pieces that are perfectly authentic and available to the new collector.

3. Take a look at transitional wares.  
Traditionally a Western collecting category, porcelains made in the period between the Ming and Qing dynasties, known as ‘Transitional’ wares, are gaining popularity with Chinese collectors.
The kilns in China were not under imperial control at the time, so the painters and artisans had greater artistic freedom. You find a lot of interesting designs and some beautifully painted landscapes during that time period.

4. Consider hybrid porcelains.
There are also hybrid pieces, which blur the boundaries between domestic and export works. Made in the early 18th century, these objects reflect Chinese tastes but were sold to both domestic and export markets. At this point in history, before private European orders were common, demand in Europe for Chinese porcelains was great, and Western trading companies brought back porcelains decorated with Chinese motifs for a demanding clientele.

5. Porcelain objects for the scholar. 
Another interesting sub-category of Chinese porcelains to consider includes pieces that would have adorned scholars’ desks: small brushpots, objects upon which brushes rested, flower vases and more. These pieces were made in a range of materials, such as wood and enamel, and also in porcelain.

6. Do your homework. 
As is always the case, new collectors should strive to see as many works as they can, and get their hands on any and every material that they can from museums, auction houses, and dealers.

7. Look for restorations.
In the past, restorations tend to brown or yellow and flake with time, but new techniques make restorations harder to see. One trick to uncover restorations is to stick a pin in the questionable area; if it sticks be wary. Porcelain that has not been overpainted will not scratch. Holding a flashlight up to a work can also help with spotting hair-line cracks.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Chinese Dealers Who Made Hong Kong An Antiques Trade Hub Recall The Glory Days By Enid Tsui

The period from the 1950s to the ’70s saw the beginning of Hong Kong’s economic miracle. The blow dealt to the city’s post-second-world-war recovery by the Korean conflict and the consequent American-led blockade on Chinese trade was ameliorated by an influx of people from China who brought fresh capital and built factories, reducing the city’s reliance on the entre­pôt trade.
The antiques business flourished in this environ­ment and the market was dominated by dealers from China who moved to Hong Kong to escape the political and econo­mic turmoil after the Communist Party took over.
The field widened in the late 1960s, when Hong Kong began to attract more international collectors. Western deal­ers such as Hugh Moss and Glenn and Lucille Vessa, of Honeychurch Antiques, began to trade in the city. Holly­wood Road started to fill with antiques shops catering to expatriates and visitors, initially from America and Europe, later from Japan and Taiwan. In 1973, Sotheby’s became the first international auction house to hold regular sales in Hong Kong.
The dealers in Hong Kong often returned to [China] and bought from the antiques market in Beijing’s Liulichang district or from dealers who kept stock at home.”
There were restrictions, though.
“Nothing as old as Han [206BC-AD220] and Tang [AD618-907] dynasty was allowed to be taken out but Qing [1644-1911] and Ming [1368-1644] stuff, no problem,” says Hei Snr. “Even imperial kiln ceramics could be exported.”
Hong Kong dealers continued to source from China during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.
Nevertheless, the mood is gloomy along Hollywood Road, where Andy Hei has had his own furniture shop since 2000. Last summer, Honeychurch Antiques became the latest of many dealerships to close their doors for good. Rising rent is the main cause. In the ’80s, the average monthly rent was HK$10,000. By 2000, Andy Hei was paying about HK$30,000. And then the market went berserk.
In some ways, the industry has also become a victim of its own success. “It is hard for anyone to set up a new business unless they come from a family of dealers with an existing inventory. It costs so much to buy now, and there are so many fakes out there,” Andy Hei says.
The market has changed dramatically in other ways.
“The old clients have gone along with the generous housing allowances that expatriates used to get,” he says. “Westerners also don’t have the same romantic idea about ‘the Orient’ that used to spur Europeans and Americans to study, collect and live with Chinese antiques. Buyers [from China] have different tastes and ways of doing business.
“They bargain. They are impatient. They phone you up at midnight on a Sunday.”