Pulse: September / October 2013 Art Auctions

Since Henry Butcher's "The (MAS) Modernist" auction was risibly called off over the Art Expo weekend, wishful thinking is directed towards the national investment arm in hope of publicising its burgeoning art collection. The non-event was a godsend to KL Lifestyle Art Space, who secured a 90% sales ratio. 21% of lots sold at the lowest estimate or lower (excluding buyer's premium), which curiously included the last two highlights by Latiff Mohidin and Ibrahim Hussein. At Masterpiece, Nanyang pioneer Cheong Soo Pieng's moody pieces sold at 230% and 370% over the high estimates, as investors clamour over his piping hot status in the Asian secondary art market. However, the more characteristically Nanyang 'Offering in Bali' found no takers. Ib's busy 'Val Bon' recorded RM 594,000 including buyer's premium, while Latiff's 'Dark Voyage' (estimated RM 250,000 - RM 350,000) was bought in. 

Jolly Koh - Green Movement (2007)

Veteran artists Lee Jor For and Jolly Koh recorded high returns, while Chen Wen Hsi's gibbons undersold at KLAS, no doubt because of its poor condition. A similar, better quality piece went over the high estimates at the later sale, denoting that preservation does matter to bidders. Cheong Lai Tong remain unpopular due the poor condition of works on offer, despite being rarely transacted at auctions. Fellow painters Hoe Say Young and Lee Cheng Yong see their stock plummet, while Ahmad Khalid Yusoff and Jalaini Abu Hassan's increasing value buoy an enthusiastic but uneducated market. An artwork's value may be subjective, but I pity the one overpaying for Yap Chin Hoe's dishes, which RM 30,800 could have been spent on a Tan Choon Ghee and a Chia Yu Chian with change to spare. I digress.

Cheong Soo Pieng - Fishing Village (1974)