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Korea’s art auction market falters amid subdued leveraged investments

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The height of the pandemic may be coming to an end in Korea’s art auction market amid a loose global liquidity crunch that has splashed cold waters on leveraged investments and high-risk assets.

Paintings by top artists Park Seo-bo Lee Ufan and Yun Hyong-keun with price tags of over 500 million won ($402,868) each failed to sell by Seoul Auction, the first and largest korea art auction house. Last Wednesday, Javier Calleja’s artwork, one of the auction house’s signature pieces, sold for 880 million won, lower than the expected price of more than 900 million won.

The bidding rate for artworks at Korea’s two major auctions, Seoul Auction and K Auction, steadily declined, reaching 75.2 percent and 83.5 percent in May.

According to the Korea Art Authentication & Appraisal Research Center (KAAARC), the auction turnover of the two auction houses from January to May was 94.1 billion won, up 24 percent. than a year ago, but its growth has started to slow since February.

Weak demand for artwork auctions was somewhat anticipated after many masterpieces, such as Chun Kyung-ja’s “Woman” and Lee Jung-seop’s “Chickens with Family,” sold out. canceled their purchases at the last minute, an auction industry source said. “The bubbles may be dying out,” KAAARC director Jeong Jun-mo said. “It has become dubious to judge a boom of so-called rich young people.”

Falling demand for art auctions also coincides with bearish sentiment towards risky assets like stocks and cryptocurrencies amid rapidly rising interest rates and collapsing Terra/Luna.

While the domestic market is depressed, overseas markets have benefited from a fairly strong appetite for art auctions despite the financial market shock.

Christie’s Hong Kong auction exceeded HK$1.4 billion ($181.42 million) with a 93% success rate, selling works by Pablo Picasso and David Hockney. In the first quarter, the world’s three major auction houses, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Philips, posted combined sales of $1.66 billion, up 32% from a year ago. However, while Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold for $19.5 million, falling short of the expected $200 million, signs of a downward trend are being felt in the music market. overseas auctions.

By Kim Seul-gi and Jenny Lee

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