Auction House Panel Discusses Decorative Arts and the Antiques Market
On March 26, 2021, the Decorative Arts Trust hosted a panel discussion featuring leaders from auction houses across the country. Panelists Tim Andreadis, Division Director, Decorative Arts & Design, Freeman’s; Lauren Brunk, Vice President, Brunk Auctions; John Hays, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s; and Annie Wu, Director, Senior Specialist, Asian Art, Hindman, participated in an hour-long discussion on the evolving market lead by moderator Taryn Clary, Cataloguer, 20th Century Design, Sotheby’s. The program was sponsored by Freeman’s.
The conversation began with a question on how the market has performed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tim Andreadis observed that at the start of the pandemic there was a lot of fear surrounding potential performance, but “what we found actually is quite the opposite happened. We postponed our marquee design auction for three weeks, and when we had the sale, the participation was two to three times the level we would have anticipated pre-pandemic.”
This optimism was echoed throughout the conversation as each panelist noted how auction houses continue to evolve to meet the needs of an ever-changing market. John Hays noted that “Christie’s is embracing so many changes right now we’re sort of breathless…It used to be that it was the amount of money people had into these markets, but now through these technologies we are able to embrace whole new communities of potential buyers.”
Annie Wu arrived at the panel directly after leading an online sale of Asian art. She explained the importance of provenance research creating buyer interest in a recent sale of Chinese paintings featuring numerous collector seals. “It’s not very easy to figure out what the seals are, but because we spent two months studying the seals we were able to provide a clear history for the paintings and connect the dots to present a very strong provenance.”
Passion for research and uncovering the history of objects continues to create a market of incredible objects with interested buyers. The auction houses also noted how specialization and expertise strengthened their sales. Lauren Brunk shared, “We have a strength at Brunk in furniture, and while southern furniture isn’t the only thing we do, we do it really well. We have seen a great strength in that market and a growing collecting field there as there’s more writing and symposia and more academic effort put in the direction of looking at objects from the southeast.”
From encouraging new collectors, to virtual auctions, to value in the marketplace, our colleagues are optimistic about the present and future state of the decorative arts market.
Enjoy a recording of this discussion on our YouTube channel:
Decorative Arts and the Market is an ongoing series hosted by the Decorative Arts Trust. These one-hour panel discussions bring leaders in the field of decorative arts together to discuss the evolution and growth of the decorative arts market. Watch our calendar of events webpage, sign up for our e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for news about the next program in the series.
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About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin
Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.