The two major art auction houses in Korea, Seoul Auction and K Auction, recently featured representative works in their major auctions in October. They presented a Joseon Dynasty moon jar and works by Chang Ucchin, who is considered a leading figure in Korea’s modern and contemporary art alongside artists like Park Sookeun, Lee Jungseop, and Kim Whanki
The moon jar was sold for 3.4 billion KRW, setting a record as the highest-ever price achieved for a moon jar in auction history. Chang Ucchin’s 1989 work Bird was also auctioned for 190 million KRW. However, apart from these two pieces, the overall auction results did not meet expectations.
An official from the domestic auction industry attributed the sluggishness in the domestic art market to “high interest rates and various domestic and international risks, such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, which are rapidly impacting the art market.”
For reference, the total transaction amount in the domestic auction market for the first half of this year was 81.1 billion KRW, staying at 56% of the 144.6 billion KRW recorded in the first half of the previous year.
In the case of overseas auctions, the total winning bids for the first half of this year at major auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips amounted to 5.81 billion dollars, a decrease of 18.2% compared to the 7.11 billion dollars in the first half of 2022. This decline was particularly pronounced in the world’s largest art markets, New York and London.
Even the Hong Kong art market experienced a downturn in an auction held by Sotheby’s on October 5th, featuring the collection of the founders of the Long Museum in China, Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei. The auction was expected to raise between 95.5 million and 135.5 million dollars but fell far short, concluding at 69.5 million dollars.