Singapore: a hub for the art market in Southeast Asia

Sotheby’s hopes to capitalize on Singapore’s status by holding its modern and contemporary art auction there on August 28. Image: JKboy Jatenipat / Shutterstock

Jhe art market is increasingly turning to Asia to attract new collectors, and Singapore is one of the most popular destinations. And that’s why Sotheby’s is holding a major auction there for the first time in 15 years.

Singapore is often dubbed the Switzerland of Asia, thanks to its abundance of billionaires, its advantageous taxation and its very high GDP per capita. It is therefore not surprising that the city-state has established itself as a veritable hub of the region’s art market.

Sotheby’s hopes to capitalize on Singapore’s status at the auction house’s upcoming modern and contemporary art sale there on August 28. According to Artnet News, collectors will be able to bid on works by Asian artists such as Vietnamese Lê Phổ, Fernando Amorsolo from the Philippines and Hendra Gunawan from Indonesia. The latter artist recently had works exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as part of “Revolusi! Indonesia Independent”.

The auction will also include pieces by Western artists who are highly regarded in Southeast Asia, such as French-Chinese artist Chu Teh-Chun and Spanish artist Rafa Macarrón. The work of compatriot Pablo Picasso has seen an increase in value recently, as evidenced by the sale of a diptych titled “Rutina Fluor” at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for HK$4.3 million (about $548,000). More recently, another of his paintings, titled “Matilda”, sold for HK$4 million (about $510,000) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

Destination Singapore and Seoul

This is the first time since 2007 that the auction house has held an auction in Singapore. Sotheby’s first established itself in Singapore in 1996, before turning to Hong Kong a decade later to further tap into the Asian art market. The continent has been in the spotlight for several years as it has become a major hotspot for buying and selling art. Western auction houses and art dealers are trying to approach Asian buyers by holding sales or opening branches in the region. “Southeast Asian collectors have been one of the key players on the international art scene,” Jasmine Prasetio, managing director of Sotheby’s Southeast Asia, told Artnet News. “By holding this evening sale, Sotheby’s brings the latest market information to their doorstep.”

Read also: An invisible work sells for more than a million euros at auction

Other art market behemoths such as Perrotin and Pace have set their sights on Seoul. Both galleries will soon open new spaces in the South Korean capital, as have their rivals Thaddaeus Ropac, König, Peres Projects and Gladstone Gallery in recent years. This phenomenon highlights the rise of South Korea on the art market. Despite this, the country is still far from equaling its neighbor, China, just like Singapore. But the two catch up quickly.

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