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  • Feb 12, 2020

Auction Houses Reschedule Asian Art Sales Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

*Last updated February 18, 2020

Auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Bonhams have announced the rescheduling of their sales during Asia Week New York (March 12–19) to June, following health and safety concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across cities within China and nearby regions. Christie's Hong Kong has delayed its inaugural 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in March, and Bonhams has also postponed its March auctions in Hong Kong.

While Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale in New York will continue as scheduled on March 16 along with its selling exhibition “Crafting Geometry: Abstract Art from South Asia and The Middle East” (February 28–March 20), the remaining suite of its Asian fine art and antique sales have been postponed (June 22–27), with preview exhibitions slated to open on June 18. Sotheby’s spring auction series in Hong Kong will proceed as planned (April 3–8), although the auction house said it will “continue to monitor the situation closely, including travel restrictions and recommendations from government agencies,” as stated in its press release on February 7. 

Similarly, Christie's New York will hold its South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale and single owner sale of the Jane and Kito de Boer's Indian art collection on March 18, as planned. The rest of its Asian Art Week sales have been delayed to June, with details forthcoming. In Hong Kong, Christie’s inaugural contemporary art evening sale, originally slated for March 19 to coincide with the now cancelled Art Basel Hong Kong, has been pushed back to its annual May auction series. 

All of the Asian art sales at Bonhams during New York’s Asia Week have been rearranged to June, while sale highlights will remain on view from March 12 to 19. According to its press release on February 11, its March sales in Hong Kong will also be rescheduled, with dates to be announced. 

On February 18, China Guardian Hong Kong confirmed in a press release that it will delay its spring auction series, originally scheduled for April, to late May, with details forthcoming. Poly Auction Hong Kong has also stated that its April sales will be postponed, with new dates to be announced. Speaking to AAP, Poly Auction said that the sales will likely take place in May.

Asia Week New York will continue with its scheduled exhibitions and talks, including presentations from 37 international art dealers and galleries. 

The escalation of the coronavirus worldwide, now with over 45,000 confirmed cases across 25 countries and with 1,016 deaths at the time of writing, has led to travel bans on foreign travelers arriving from China by many countries including the United States. Potential buyers in the country traditionally make up a significant portion of the sales’ clientele base. 

Kylie Yeung is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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