Signaling its interest in Singapore’s young, rich, and quickly expanding collector base, international auction house Sotheby’s on August 28 will hold its first sale in the tiny Southeast Asian city state in a decade and a half. Citing demand that has increased “exponentially,” Sotheby’s in a press release revealed that the auction would concentrate on contemporary and modern art from both Southeast Asian and international artists, reflective of the current tastes in a region populated by expats and financiers. The Global Financial Centres Index ranks Singapore as the world’s sixth-largest finance center, behind New York, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Los Angeles: The city state is the world’s top shipping and logistics hub according to the Economics & Commerce Data Conference.
More broadly, the sale is indicative of global players’ confidence in the steadily heating Asian art market. Though nonfungible tokens gained tremendously in popularity late last year, with cryptocurrency taking a drubbing, the future of NFTs has become less certain, and investors have been pouring their money into physical art, especially in this region of the world. According to Bloomberg, Sotheby’s raked in $496 million at its spring auction in Hong Kong, the second-highest amount achieved by the company in an Asian sale, though Penta, a luxury publication issued by Barron’s and targeting the very wealthy, noted that hammer prices at June sales held in Hong Kong the world’s three auction houses—Sotheby’s, Phillips, and Christies’—were considerably lower year-over-year. London-based art market research firm ArtTactic suggested that dip was owing to a lack of major works in the sale, and to the lower overall number of works offered, rather than to an actual cooling of interest. Too, in recent years as mainland China has continued to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, dealers have sought to diversify, with Korea and Singapore seen as prime hunting grounds for wealthy young collectors.
Among the works that will be on offer at the sale, to be held at Singapore’s Regent Hotel, are those by Filipino artist Fernando Amorsolo, Indonesian artist Hendra Gunawen, Singaporean artists Georgette Chen and Cheong Soo Pieng, Spanish contemporary artist Rafa Maccaron, and Vietnamese painter Lê Phổ.