Fancy a Picasso or a Dali? Taobao auctions first works from Beverly Hills gallery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 2:50pm

Fancy bagging yourself a Picasso print or a Dali sculpture?

A pair of artworks from a Californian gallery are being auctioned for the first time on China's eBay-like Taobao.

Eighteen hours after bidding started at just one yuan, bids for the Picasso linocut print Visage had reached 1.14 yuan (HK$1.43 million). 

The rare black and beige linocut was unveiled in 1963 and is being sold by gallery Galerie Michael from Beverly Hills. The piece is estimated to be worth about 1.2 million yuan.

Linocut is a printmaking technique made popular by artists in the early 20th century, where a design is cut into the surface and the uncarved areas are inked, then impressed onto paper or fabric. The printing is done either by hand or with a press.

Also being auctioned with a starting price of one yuan is a signed limited edition of a bronze sculpture modelled on Salvador Dali’s best-known painting The Persistence Of Memory.

But in contrast to Picasso’s piece, the sculpture has so far attracted a lot less attention, with bids so far up to 142,000 yuan. It is valued at 400,000 yuan.

The auctions mark the debut of western classical masterpieces being auctioned on Taobao, China’s first peer-to-peer online shopping platform owned by the Alibaba Group.

“[These auctions] aims to promote online auctions among domestic art work collectors,” Xin Yu, who is in charge of artwork auctions on Taobao, told China National Radio.

“A decent art piece can sometimes gain an unexpected amount of the spotlight [for online auctions]’s a terrific demonstration of the power of the internet,” Xin added.

Galerie Michael could not be reached on Thursday for comment.

Taobao has hosted auctions for a wide range of goods, from celebrities’ signed photographs, to overseas bloodstock, to private airplanes.

A number of courthouses around the nation have also capitalised on the platform’s popularity to help them auction off seized valuables from debtors who have defaulted on their mortgages, including properties, vehicles and weaving machines.