May 3, 2010 / 8:25 AM / 10 years ago

Asian auction house to offer tips on art investing

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Want to buy some Asian art but not sure how to go about it? Leading Asian auctioneer Larasati may have some tips for you.

As the art market recovers from the economic downturn, the auction house has launched a holding firm, One East Larasati, to help buyers in Asian markets learn the nuances of the art market before making an investment.

One East Larasati, which is based in Singapore, will offer a range of art services from art consulting and education to collection management and conservation to tap the huge potential in Asia.

“The Asian art market is recovering from the recession and about to enter a whole new growth cycle,” said Daniel Komala, chief executive officer and founder of Larasati.

“To meet the demands of the market, which is not only growing in size but also in terms of sophistication, we have launched One East Asia to expand our service offering into investment and consultancy, expertise which the market needs to sustain growth.”

Larasati, which held its first auction in Singapore in the middle of the SARS respiratory disease crisis in 2003, has always specialised in Asian art.

It also holds sales in Europe and the auction house has helped bring renown to several Asian artists including China’s Yue Minjun and Indonesia’s Nyoman Masriadi.

Under the One East Asia flagship, Komala will consolidate the resources, expertise and contacts built through Larasati in the past decade and pursue a wide range of art market options and services, and a larger customer base across Asia.

“Everything is being carried out within the umbrella of Christie’s or Sotheby’s but ... I want to make my clients become more well informed buyers,” said Komala.

“You can’t be a well-informed buyer by only coming to auctions, and you don’t really want to go to university to brush up your knowledge.”

For several years, auction rooms in London, New York and Hong Kong had crackled with fierce interest in Asian art, especially Chinese contemporary art, as prices broke record after record.

But then the financial crisis seemed to catch up with this red-hot market, with bidders failing to buy top-flight paintings at one Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, a twice-yearly barometer of market sentiment among the world’s top collectors.

But all that has changed in the past year or so, with Southeast Asian artists leading the recovery.

At one Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, Indonesian artist Lee Man Fong’s “Magnificent Horses,” a grand depiction of seven horses perched on a misty hill top, went under the hammer for HK$8.2 million, three times the top estimate.

Last December, in a fine Chinese modern paintings sale at a Christie’s auction, Chinese artist Fu Baoshi set a world auction record with his “Landscape inspired by Dufu Poetic Sentiment” which was hammered off for HK$60 million.

“Larasati has been and will continue to be at the forefront of identifying Asian art icons such as Masriadi, Suwage, Ronald Ventura,” said Komala.

“Over the years, as we have introduced and showcased these artists at our auctions, art lovers have become more knowledgeable and savvier and more demanding. They are increasingly expecting more information, more discerning offerings and advice on buying and investing.”

“We have identified a gap between what’s out there and what customers want and need and through our consultancy service in One East Asia, we are going to bridge this gap.”

Editing by Sugita Katyal

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