Planet China

No touching

A year ago one of Pablo Picasso’s self-portraits was withdrawn from an auction in New York after it was damaged in a preview viewing.There were fresh palpitations for Christie’s, the same auction house, at a pre-sale of paintings in Hong Kong this month when a child was blamed for damage to a work by the nineteenth century artist Ren Yi.

One of the photos from the scene shows how the lower half of one of a four-screen set of paintings called Flowers and Birds (priced at more than Rmb2 million at the top of the range) had been torn away.

Not many kids will be turning up to auction previews in London or New York. But China’s tiger parents spare no effort in trying to give their offspring an educational edge, which can be dangerous at pre-sales viewings, where potential buyers are allowed to get much closer to the exhibits.

“Some parents like to bring children to a preview to benefit from the artistic influences. But this is really the wrong place,” Huang Xiangjie, a member of the China Book Association, told Beijing Daily. “Children who are interested in art should be taken to museums and art galleries, where the collections are all classic and more suitable for learning.”

The Ren item was withdrawn for repairs but situations like this will probably lead to greater security at future pre-sales or minimum age limits for attendees. A separate auction house, reports Beijing Daily, earlier banned the wearing of high heels in its antiques department after a member of staff broke a porcelain vase when she fell over in the stilettos.

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