“80% of Korean art buyers are pure speculators”, says Juhl Joohyun Lee, director of Arario Gallery. And with Lee Kun-hee having stepped down from the chairmanship of Samsung and allegations flying that an illegal slush fund was used to buy works for his wife’s Leeum museum, Samsung has stopped buying art. So says the FT (Korean buyers hit by chaos on the markets, 27 Sept 2008) in its report from the Korean International Art Fair last week. “Visitors were thin on the ground, and buyers even rarer.”
Let’s hope the current financial turmoil doesn’t dim the appeal of one of Korea’s most popular artists, Park Soo-keun. Having been in private hands since its original purchase in 1956, Park’s painting of a seated woman is being auctioned on 19 October in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The original price tag was $80, and the estimate for the sale proceeds this year is anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000. That’s a cumulative annual growth rate of 17% – not a bad return on the initial investment.
The original price tag is on the back, as evidence (right), while the painting is signed, simply “Soo-keun” (top right).
- The auctioneers John McInnis Auctioneers.
Update 14 November 2008: Cathy at McInnis Auctions tells me that the painting sold for $400,000 hammer price.