art auction

 Chinese Art Auction



superb potential check out (2)
bid genuine masterpiece
trust exceed widespread
behalf forgery counterfeit
disposal appraise commission
auction distinguish well founded
worth it porcelain snap up a bargain






A potential buyer checks out the superb pieces on offer.

One is his absolute favorite: it’s a genuine Yimentaka, a Tibetan bronze figure from the early fifteenth century.

It comes from a private collection in Belgium.

And it’s been estimated at €50,000.

Art dealer Andrew Lau has come especially from Hong Kong to bid on it.

Andrew Lau, Art Dealer: “This is one of the masterpieces that’s very, very hard to find. If you come to China, you can only find it in a palace museum; or a very high standard private collector’s house.”

For more than 30 years, his family has been dealing in Asian art. He joined the business five years ago.

Stuttgart is considered one of the top addresses in Europe for these kinds of works.

At a preview in the Nagel Auction House, customers can examine the objects — and even touch them.

Andrew Lau knows the house expert personally.

Michael Trautmann has headed the Asian Art Department for years. And the Lau family trusts his expertise.

The Chinese art market is full of forgeries. Some estimates say up to 70% of objects on sale are not genuine.

Michael Trautmann, Asian Expert at Nagel Art Auction House: “Here’s the situation: an older couple brings things here on someone else’s behalf. So you end up with an excellent counterfeit piece of porcelain.

And if you’re not very, very good, you can hardly distinguish it from an original.

There’s a mixture, and it’s so widespread, that you need experience to avoid it.”

On the day of the auction, the room is full.

Michael Trautmann is energized — he selected and appraised most of the pieces.

His client base is growing steadily.

There are more than 18,000 names in his files, most of them from China.

Some potential buyers bid only by telephone or have dealers represent them.

Many of the clients are collectors; some are just starting out.

Michael Trautmann, Asian Expert at Nagel Art Auction House: “We have a situation where there’s a lack of knowledge — but on the other hand, a lot of money.

Some clients have two to three million Euros at their disposal to buy art. They enjoy coming to auctions in Europe and spending money.

But they’re often advised by people who don’t know enough.

So it’s fun for them . . . but it’s not well founded.”

Now come the highlights of the auction, including the Yimentaka figure.

Andrew Lau is nervous: he has a limit of €100,000.

The bidding exceeds that after just a few moments.

Of the twenty starting bidders, only two are left: one on the phone, and one in the room; he’s a dealer acting for a private collector in Beijing.

The price rises to €520,000.

With the auction house’s commission, it amounts to €700,000 — making it the most expensive object in the sale.

Andrew Lau, Art Dealer from Hong Kong: “It’s like when a good thing comes to your auctions, especially here, and then more than tens of people will fight for it; so then the price went more than five times what I expected, more than what I could afford.”

Andrew Lau is still hoping to snap up a bargain. That could make the long journey from Hong Kong worth it.

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1. The Tibetan bronze figure came from an archaeologist. True, false or maybe? Is it very rare and valuable?

2. Is Andrew Lau an art collector with decades of experience?

3. Can visitors touch the art objects? Why can they touch them? Could they touch them in a museum?

4. The Asian art expert is Chinese. Yes or no? Does he have many clients? Do they buy art from him?

5. What does Michael say about forgeries and counterfeit art?

6. There is great demand and a small supply of authentic (genuine) Oriental art. Is this correct or wrong?

7. What happened to the Tibetan bronze figure? Did Mr. Lau purchase it?

A. Is art buying and collecting very popular in your city? What kinds of artworks are popular?

B. Do you and your friends have an art collection? Is it contemporary, traditional, African, Chinese, Classical, European, Indian, Islamic?

C. Is artwork (becoming) a form of financial investment?

D. If you had a million dollars, would you buy and have an extensive art collection? What types of artwork would you like to have?

F. What will happen in the future for art?

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