Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stela re-appears in Paris

Limestone Stela of a Buddha, China, Eastern Wei 534 - 550 A.D.

This stela was in a Stotheby's New York sale titled, "Images of Enlightenment: Devotional works of Art & Paintings", held September 16, 2015, lot 422.  It failed to sell, which was shocking to me as I posted here:

It has reappeared on the market however. I was just in Paris, for a tribal and Asian art fair held in early September the Parcours des Mondes, Paris.  One of the best dealers in Asian art in Paris, participated in the fair, Jacques Barrere, who was featuring some very good early Chinese Buddhist sculptures. Later that same week, his gallery was also exhibiting in the huge Paris Biennale . The star of his offering at the Biennale was the same stela that failed to sell at Sotheby's.   Sources who were at the Sotheby's sale in New York where the stela had failed to sell, told me that the Chinese dealers were telling anyone who was willing to listen that the sculptures in the sale were fake, and now the star piece reappears at one of the best dealers of the material in the world.  If I were the consignor to the Sotheby's sale I would be very upset that a conspiracy of dealers had sabotaged the sale of the piece, only to have it reappear as a featured object at the worlds top antiques fair.  I feel vindicated in that the market has confirmed what I always knew, that the piece is authentic, but it illustrates the power of rumor and innuendo to damage the reputation of a piece.  As my mentor Matthias Komor said, "believe your eyes, not your ears" when judging an object.  In this case, those who listened to the naysayers would have been misdirected.  Perhaps Jacques Barrere was smart enough to buy the stela after the sale from Sotheby's when it failed to sell at auction.  I doubt, or don't want to believe, that he conspired to undermine the auction to scoop up the piece at a discount.  However it ended up in his hands, it is being treated with the respect that it deserves, which makes me happy.