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Rare Chinese 'masterpieces' at Christie's auction

By Amy He in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-03-10 12:09

Christie's Asia Week auctions start next week and go through March 17, featuring classical Chinese furniture and Chinese art from the Fujita Museum in Japan.

The New York auction house will have seven live auctions and one online sale, with seven of them being Chinese ceramics, fine paintings, snuff bottles, pieces from the Fujita Museum and the Marie Theresa L. Virata collection. It will also have one sale of Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian works of art.

The Fujita Museum auction will feature "some of the top, top masterpieces you can find in Chinese art," said Margaret Gristina, senior specialist and head of sales at Christie's.

The Virata collection features rare pieces of Chinese furniture to come on the market, she said.

The Viratas were a prominent Filipino family whose collecting spanned multiple generations, starting with Marie Theresa L. Virata, wife of Leonides Sarao Virata, Filipino economist and former secretary of the Filipino Department of Commerce and Industry.

The family was particularly interested in collecting classical Chinese furniture and focused on provenance, or ownership history, making their collection particularly valuable, according to Christie's. Included among the pieces is an important zitan (rosewood) luohan bed from the 18th century, estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million.

The Fujita Museum in Osaka has more than 2,000 Japanese and Chinese works of art, and the collection being sold at Christie's contains classical paintings, scholar's objects and important pieces of ritual bronzes from the Shang (1600-1046 BC) and Zhou (c 11th century-221 BC) dynasties. A ram-shaped, rare bronze ritual wine vessel is estimated at $6 million to $8 million.

Gristina dismissed concerns over a continued slowdown in the art or lessened interest from Chinese buyers, saying sales at Christie's Asia Week in September were "very strong" .

"We just had great sales in London this past week ... and it's still early in the year. Just the interest in this sale is a good indication that [the market] is still strong," she said.


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