Enfilade

Putting a Price on a Chinese Vase

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 27, 2011

Arts writer and CultureGrrl blogger, Lee Rosenbaum, does an extraordinary job covering the intersection of the visual arts, museum culture, the art market, and politics. As a journalist, she’s not afraid of asking tough questions, challenging flimsy responses, and occasionally taking stances on controversial issues. In a recent posting (23 March 2011), she reports on the results of the New York Sotheby’s sale, Informing the Eye of the Collector: Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art from J.T. Tai & Co, in which a vase valued at $1000 sold for $18 million. The auction house presented the vase as “probably Republican” (early twentieth century) while seven bidders believed it to be something else altogether more important: a vase with the seal marks of the eighteenth-century emperor Qianlong.

It’s a potent example of what’s at stake in identifying an object. All seven bidders could certainly be mistaken, but regardless of who’s right, the discrepancies between their conception of the object and that of Sotheby’s is startling.

The posting is available here»