Sussex auction house forges trade links with China

Lars Tharp. Photo: Lionel Heap.

Lars Tharp. Photo: Lionel Heap.

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Washington-based antique and fine art auctioneers Toovey’s will be represented by the British Ambassador to China at the official launch of an exciting new professional group, comprising twenty-one of the leading regional auction houses in the United Kingdom, at the British Embassy in Beijing this April.

These auction houses, which have a combined annual turnover in excess of £200 million, have united to become a dominant UK force in the lucrative Chinese market.

In an unprecedented move, they have launched AAA (The Association of Accredited Auctioneers) and forged commercial links with Asia’s only online live bidding portal, www.epailive.com, which now promotes their sales directly to more than 100,000 registered collectors of fine art and antiques in China and posts their catalogues translated into Chinese online.

“The number of Chinese nationals attending our sales in person has grown and grown over recent years,” commented auction house director Rupert Toovey, “but there is a huge, untapped audience of potential buyers in the East, who lack the experience and knowledge necessary for direct trade with the West and are unable to make the journey here.

“The objective of AAA is to increase confidence and understanding of the UK auction business through a programme of targeted marketing, quality assurance and educational presentations to key growth markets in China.”

Toovey’s Oriental Department holds six specialist auctions of Chinese, Japanese and other Far Eastern ceramics and works of art a year and holds regular valuation days. Department head Tom Rowsell and his consultant, BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Lars Tharp, have over the last fifteen years built one of the pre-eminent specialist auction departments in the UK. “The influence of the Chinese on the UK auction market cannot be underestimated,” said Tom Rowsell.

“Our web presence through www.tooveys.com has complimented the depth of our expertise by providing our clients with accelerated marketing and an international shop window for the sale of their objects.

“Rare Chinese pieces still command the highest prices but there is now a tremendous demand for British antiques in China, particularly furniture, silver, jewellery, clocks and watches, and we hope that the AAA project will encourage more and more mainland Chinese to buy items in all the specialist sections in our auctions.