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Chicanery in auctions
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Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/23/2015, 18:36:56

Remember a past thread about the unbelievable prices for Dzi beads on Chinese auctions?

Recently I read two books:
Allen's Antique Chinese Porcelain: The Detection of Fakes by Anthony Allen [the author is a resident of New Zealand]
The China Collectors: America's Century-Long Hunt for Asian Art Treasures by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac.

Below are quoted some interesting passages from these books:
-------------------------------------------------------
Selling Fakes as Genuine Antiques

Every day, both at auction or on the Internet, thousands of fake Chinese antiques are offered for sale as genuine, either through eBay auctions, on private web-sites, or on the auction sites which sell on behalf of dealers. Most are run by Mainland or ex-pat Chinese, but for a disturbing number of Western dealers entering the field. Except for when a piece is sold for an exceptionally high price (such as the USD$1.7 million vase sold by a U.S. auction house in 2013), these attract little attention, unless, as frequently happens, the buyer defaults on payment. Mainland Chinese sellers of fakes have so corrupted eBay that it is virtually impossible to buy any quality antique Chinese item from China.

The export of antiques from China has been banned now for some 65 years, with the exception of low quality items approved for sale to foreigners. Rigorously policed, at least until recently, with offenders possibly facing the death penalty, this law (and the premiums paid for antiques in China), has seen the export of antiques from China, other than looted burial artefacts, virtually cease.

The establishment of the Peoples Republic of China by Mao Zedong in 1949 was followed by a chaotic Cultural Revolution that began in 1966 and lasted until his death in 1976. This was a time of austerity where luxuries were discouraged, and few if any copies of Imperial porcelains were made in this period. It was not until 1979 that the new administration opened up relations with the West and fakes became the subject of attention of the Chinese potters.

From the late 1990's, increasing number of Mainland Chinese dealers began attending auctions in England, Europe and the North America, buying Chinese antiques at Western auctions, reselling them in some cases for massive margins to a receptive and increasingly wealthy local clientele. It was not long before dishonest dealers, both Chinese and Western, realised they could also sell fakes as genuine, so successfully that in once case a seller has accumulated over 12,000 positive feedbacks, amazingly with not one negative.

The Chinese Struggle for Learning

It needs to be remembered that from circa 1949 up until the early 21st century, Mainland Chinese were not legally permitted to own or deal in Chinese antiques, which meant the only Mainland Chinese who had access to learn about these were a small group of Government antique, Museum, or Friendship Store employees. After 1979 education on antiques for the masses therefore came from a number of books, which initially included some excellent tests (in Chinese) on a number of specialist subjects. Enterprising Chinese publishers then started printing books on Chinese auction records, complete with colour images, a short text, and details of estimates and/or prices realised. These Chinese auction record books appear to be the primary source of knowledge for Chinese dealers, as they can never have hoped to handle the actual pieces illustrated. The auction prices are manipulated by dishonest collectors and dealers intent on getting a fake provenance for their pieces, and by Mainland Chinese auctioneers who actively participate in these frauds. The New York Times (28 October 2013) reported that about half the sales of artworks valued over $1.5 million each, in China, were not paid for, yet the alleged sale prices are still stated in the mainland Chinese auction record books for the benefit of anyone gullible enough to believe them.

A major portion of the Chinese auction system is corrupt, and only a few weeks ago, I learnt of yet another attempted scam by a Mainland Chinese dealer who approached an Auckland auctioneer wanting him to sell $700,000 of fake porcelain. The seller wanted only to negotiate the commission and buyer's premium. None of the porcelain would be sold or paid for, merely knocked down to him or one of his cohorts at inflated prices. He would then offer the pieces as genuine in China, complete with provenance and illustration in the New Zealand auction catalog. Wisely, the auctioneer declined to participate.

One interesting aspect of this trade is that the majority of the vendors selling at auction, in New Zealand anyway, are Mainland and expat Chinese, who have no quibbles about defrauding their fellow countrymen.
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The China Collectors describes how Chinese auctions are used to launder money:

...art had evolved into a form of reserve currency, quickened by popular distrust of the Chinese stock market and a slowdown in the mainland housing boom. On its darker side, the market has been blamed for museum thefts and an ongoing illicit trade in looted or smuggled antiquities. At the same time, it has given a fresh twist to China's long tradition of gift giving, providing crafty local entrepreneurs with a seemingly foolproof way to "wash" a bribe. An example of how this works has been credibly described by Hong Kong's well-sourced English-language newspaper, The South China Morning Post: "It's not rocket science. A businessman gives a painting to an official, whose relatives auction it off. The businessman buys it back at an inflated price, and the official pockets the case. This leaves less evidence linking favor to bribe than handing over suitcases of cash." Thus the auction gallery can double as a money laundry.



Modified by beadiste at Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 18:37:54

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Thank you Chris
Re: Chicanery in auctions -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
09/23/2015, 19:06:57

I am so very happy I have not developed an interest in any form of Chinese art, porcelain or jewelry. However I do love a good pot sticker now & then!



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Some day you might change your mind, and be surprised at what there is to discover
Re: Thank you Chris -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/23/2015, 21:01:54

I often think of Red Mountain finding his pig ear bead - that's pretty much the ultimate thrill for a collector, isn't it, discovering something rare and unnoticed in the junk pile?



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More info on Pig Ear Bead side story Please..
Re: Some day you might change your mind, and be surprised at what there is to discover -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
09/24/2015, 08:20:40

Story or link please on said Pig Ear Bead!

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 08:21:41

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Read all about it here:
Re: More info on Pig Ear Bead side story Please.. -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/24/2015, 08:34:38


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=get&cG=6333435363&zu=3633343536&v=2&gV=0&p=

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Pic similar to RM's bead?
Re: Read all about it here: -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/24/2015, 08:44:38

http://www.friendsofjade.org/current-article/2008/4/6/from-pig-to-dragon-neolithic-hongshan-jades.html

As a caveat, in the thread about this bead Will noted that a large percentage of pieces shown on the Friends of Jade site might well be fakes imitations.

RedMountainsBeadSimilar.jpg (37.3 KB)  

Related link: http://www.friendsofjade.org/current-article/2008/4/6/from-pig-to-dragon-neolithic-hongshan-jades.html
Modified by beadiste at Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 08:49:03

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Ha! TYSM!
Re: Read all about it here: -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
09/24/2015, 09:21:49

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

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Found this on Pinterest & Google Images & eBay
Re: Read all about it here: -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
09/24/2015, 09:55:09

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 10:07:30

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The spindle whorl hypothesis
Re: Found this on Pinterest & Google Images & eBay -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/24/2015, 10:47:03

http://www.jstor.org/stable/42928273?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Will, has anything more been published about this? Discredited? Still viable?

HongshanSpindlewhorl.jpg (5932 bytes)  

Related link: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42928273?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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The Chinese have more of everything happening simply because there are more Chinese people.
Re: Chicanery in auctions -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Frederick II Post Reply
09/24/2015, 01:49:43

The use of trickery to achieve financial gain is commonplace everywhere. But there are fewer restrictions in China; therefore, it is more apparent in China.

The fun in collecting Chinese antiques is partially in the thrill of the hunt. And the real reward, as Chris points out, is in owning superior craftsmanship.

If you start by intentionally collecting Chinese copies, your eyes can eventually become trained toward connoisseurship -as many of you have already learned concerning Venetian trade beads.

Just Fred

mandarin_-_Version_2.jpg (35.0 KB)  


Modified by Frederick II at Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 01:58:13

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Re: Chicanery in auctions
Re: Chicanery in auctions -- beadiste Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: kika Post Reply
09/24/2015, 06:47:35

Yes all that is true, but the chinese don't consider that copies are not "fake", but also a sign of admiration for an artist or a piece. that is true since thousand of years. The copies always existed in China. I know that, now, for example, the ceramist make poetry with the same methods as formerly, and it is very hard to see the difference. Of course the border between the fake which is made to deceive and a copy by admiration, is very thin!!!! But there are also true old pieces, beads, or jade, or ceramic. There are true experts who are not dishonest. E-bay, unfortunately, is not the place where are the best true pieces!!! there are many many fake beads, for example. The Dzi are a world!! and all the dzi I have seen were fake. The true dzi is so expensive!!! it is not on ebay!!

kika

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No aspersions on the Chinese were meant - deception is of course a worldwide practice
Re: Re: Chicanery in auctions -- kika Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
09/24/2015, 08:25:23

A correspondent from a non-Chinese country commented to me that if she needed even more help on how to launder a bribe, she could ask one of her local officials.

That said, the line between imitation and forgery gets crossed once there is a big price difference between copies and authentic originals. As you said, the border is very thin, and thin borders are easily breached if there is demand for such behavior. And there always is - willing purchasers are never hard to find.

Caveat emptor.



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