The 21st century changed the landscape of fine and decorative arts dealers througout the world. The Chinese market was always a thing. But typically, it was fed through antiques shows and auctions in Hong Kong and Geneva, with only well-heeled, well-connected Chinse mainland collectors benefiting.
The internet and the sudden wealth of China, coupled with more permissiveness on the part of the Chinese government, begat a fury of activity in America for anything Chinese to quench the thirst of wealthy Asians. Artisans and watch and jewelry designers pandered to Chinese tastes by tailoring collectibles specifically for the Chinese market.
We fed that market well. While it has slowed a bit with Chinese austerity programs, we were excited to be offered this 2011 Cartier sterling silver fountain pen (made in only 108 examples) from a San Diego jeweler who obtained it from a
wealthy Chinese man’s estate. Originally sold for $48,000, it was an immediate sellout. More decorative than functional, this 8-inch long pen in a box the size of a breadbox, might make a writer more inspired but also might be a bit unwieldy due to its carpal-tunnel-inducing weight.
Mightier Than The Sword
We could find no auction results on this pen, so offered the jeweler two scenarios. An auction estimate of $20,000 to $25,000 with a $15,000 reserve or cash purchase of just under $15,000.
He opted for the cash-out and now we will find out if we lose money or make money. A gamble? Yes, but even if we lose a little bit of money it is worth it to be able to hold this in our hands – it is an impeccable piece of art. This is available for you to view in our St. Pete store anytime or in our Tampa store by appointment only. (By the way, many companies advertise limited editions of 100 or more but often make way less, as people balk at paying $50,000 for something; so we have no way of knowing if 108 of these were actually made. This one is number 10.) This will be sold through our sister company Hess Fine Auctions, and we will report our success (or failure) in a future column.
CONTACT US to see why the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, USF,
the Shriners, The St. Petersburg Museum of History and MOSI
have trusted us to liquidate fine art and antiques.
Always buying rare and valuable items.
Cash or auction. We make house calls statewide.
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This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.