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Unpredictable Marketplace

TYEB MEHTABulls, 2005–07, acrylic on canvas, diptych, 198 x 304 cm overall. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd

New York’s Asia Week series of sales (March 18–25) followed on the heels of the devastating Tohoku-Kanto earthquake in northeastern Japan. The mood throughout the week was somber, and yet art punters—from San Francisco to London, New Delhi to Beijing—came out to spend at auction. The most jaw-dropping example of the Chinese appetite for art was a little gold-decorated ceramic vase offered by Sotheby’s on March 22, which was described as “probably Republican period.” It exceeded…

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