The Year of the Tiger is off to an auspicious start with the wildly successful auction results of Asia Week in New York City.( March 16-25, 2022) Attendees were celebrating being back in-person. They were buying enthusiastically, reflecting the overall current strong market for Chinese works of art, both ancient and contemporary.  

Tina Zonars, Co-Chairman of Asian Art at Christie’s commented: “We are delighted by this week’s results, which demonstrate the strength and resilience of the of the Asian art market across all categories.  We continue to see how the importance of quality, rarity and provenance play to collectors.” 

Of the 6 auction houses (iGavel, Bonhams, Heritage, Doyle, Sotheby’s and Christies) participating, it is interesting to note that at Sotheby’s more than 14 items sold for over $1 million, and at Christies, 11 lots made above $1 million and they set 3 auction results.  

High-quality and rare items typically sell well. While average/mid-lower level items or items without a solid history of ownership or origin, frequently suffer with weaker results. They can even go unsold.  This is a logical result of a buyer’s desire for confidence in the authenticity and age of a work of art. Especially in the traditional collecting areas of Chinese paintings, jade and porcelains. In a market where many pieces are faked, including sometimes even the auction/gallery labels and accompanying documentation.  This is the reason excellent provenance affects the strength, and ultimately the sustainability of the market for Chinese works of art, whether it is from online, telephone and in-room bidders.  This principle can be extended from the major global auction houses, but also to local, small auction houses throughout North America. 

In fact, it is likely true to an even greater degree.  The security of having an estate source is critical to sales results.  Thus, most of the highest-selling works of art is tending to come from estates- not only of famous collectors, but even small-town, relatively ‘anonymous’ individuals and families.  Big-ticket items of Imperial quality do not simply appear out of the blue in the market. 

Results from the live sale of the Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Rachelle R. Holden Collection at Christies demonstrates this point.  This collection of 114 bottles, due to both its high-quality, rarity of wide variety of media, and excellent provenance, achieved an impressive total of $2,252, 502 USD. 86% sold by lot, and 127% hammer above the low estimate.  The star of the show (lot 805) was a Famille Rose-Enamelled Glass Snuff Bottle from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) with a realized price of $693,000 USD.  Its provenance was: 

Li Daohong Collection, Shanghai (by repute).
Zhang Zhongyin (b. 1889) Collection, Shanghai.
Zhang Tungyu Collection.
Robert Hall, London, 1995.
Rachelle R. Holden Collection, New York. 

So while snuff bottles might be considered by some appraisers to appeal to old-fashioned tastes, and not trendy, one must be cautious and take into consideration the factors of provenance, age and rarity.  A snuff bottle which embodies all of these value factors can have impressive sales results. 

For analysis of the market for Chinese art and antiques, a good source for both generalist and specialist appraisers is the Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report provided by Artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA).  The most recent information for 2020 published in November 2021 reports that “sales remained solid in Mainland China, but dropped in other regions across the globe.”  (https://new/ The article titled, “Demonstrating Resilience During the Pandemic, the Market for Chinese Art and Antiques Reaped $5.7 Billion Last Year [2020],” discusses the how the market for high-end art continues to increase and that the “ongoing problem of payment default in mainland China continues.”  This problem is being addressed by auction houses requiring non-refundable deposits prior to bidding to discourage the cancellation of purchases.  Another respected source for Chinese market information is the economist Dr. Clare McAndrew who is known for her accurate analysis of many subtle factors of market data. But there is no substitute for experiencing auctions in-person to understand the feeling in the room and by extension, the market in general.  

And one last noteworthy point:  Almost half of the 26 galleries participating in Asia Week were showing contemporary art, with dealers teaming-up to host joint exhibitions, highlighting contemporary artists. The area of contemporary art is certainly not one to be ignored when considering the overall market for Chinese art.  It is actively growing and values are increasing.

It will be important to watch as this year unfolds because of ongoing economic challenges in Mainland China. With its government restrictions and crackdowns on the flow of capital out of the country, it has impacted Chinese buyers. They are the engine of the Chinese art market.  Hopefully, the Tiger will keep roaring!

A NEW YEAR & NEW BEGINNINGS : The New President of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers

I am proud to announce that I was elected as the new President of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers as of January 1, 2022.  A sincere thank you to Past President Kelly Juhasz, whose dedicated leadership for six years is responsible, along with the efforts of the whole executive committee, for the continued success of our award-winning Chapter of professional appraisers.  

I am proud to announce that I was elected as the new President of the Canadian Chapter of the International Society of Appraisers as of January 1, 2022.  A sincere thank you to Past President Kelly Juhasz, whose dedicated leadership for six years is responsible, along with the efforts of the whole executive committee, for the continued success of our award-winning Chapter of professional appraisers.  

As a member of the ISA for more than a decade, and having achieved the CAPP designation, I have built relationships with my fellow ISA appraisers in both Canada and the US as an Instructor and Ambassador. In my career as an appraiser, I have worked with a wide variety of clients, including auction houses, museums, insurance companies and private individuals. I am confident that I possess the qualifications, appraisal knowledge, director experience on other boards including the Ontario Arts Council, and leadership skills to serve and guide our award-winning Canadian Chapter and its amazing members to build upon the work of the current and past Executive Committees. In undertaking the responsibilities of President, I also intend to engage, connect and grow awareness of our profession in the community of key stakeholders.  

The International Society of Appraisers (ISA) is the largest of the professional personal property appraisal associations representing the most highly trained and rigorously tested independent appraisers in the United States and Canada. We are a not-for-profit, member-driven association, formed to support our member needs and to enhance public trust by producing qualified and ethical appraisers who are recognized authorities in personal property appraising.

ISA was founded in 1979. Over the past 41 years, the society has grown to be the undisputed personal property association of choice. Our Core Course in Appraisal Studies is widely regarded as the most comprehensive in the industry, distinguishing ISA as the leader in methodology, theory, principles, practices, and ethics.

ISA’s membership is diverse and collegial. Our members include many of the country’s most respected appraisers, consultants, curators, scholars, gallerists, estate liquidators, auctioneers, and dealers. We pride ourselves on a strong national network of appraisers who draw on highly specialized knowledge, skill, and experience, serving as a resource to our fellow members in a spirit which is unparalleled.

2022 marks the 22nd Anniversary of the Canadian Chapter. Beginning in 2000, many of the founding members are still active in the Chapter and have been ISA members for over 20 years. The executive and committee members all volunteer their time and skills to represent and manage the Chapter right across Canada.

I look forward to serving as National representative of our Chapter members in the advancement of excellence for our profession, being responsive to changes within the industry and I am dedicated to appraisal advocacy.

In this New Year of the Tiger, I would like to wish my colleagues, clients and friends, a healthy, happy and prosperous 2022!

Happy Chinese New Year

February 12, 2021 marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the OX.  Since ancient times, the ox/water buffalo (in China they are considered the same animal category) has represented a trustworthy, hardworking, agrarian stalwart. 

An early example of the important position of the ox in traditional society is the use of its scapula as a medium for divination during the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC), as well as its depiction in other traditional areas of art such as painting, jade and ceramics. 

In the 18th century Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD) white nephrite jade carving with orange highlights, depicting a herd boy with water buffalo found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection; or close-up of a brown and white spotted ox with carefree expression from the famous ink and colour handscroll ox painting “Five Oxen” by artist Han Huang (723-787 AD); to the Tang dynasty (618-960 AD) pottery figure included in a tomb for the afterlife, this animal symbolizes prosperity and peace.  A new red-glazed (the colour of auspiciousness) version of the ox can be purchased from Jingdezhen today, the town famous for its continuous production of ceramics since the 6th century AD for both Imperial and domestic consumption.

And finally, the classic gentleman/scholar image of the Taoist philosopher “Old Master” Laozi, author of the Tao Te Ching, riding on the back of a water buffalo as he leaves the morally corrupt Zhou court heading West into retirement, found on so many landscape paintings.

What does this year of the ox mean for you?  The general predictions for 2021 are all positive.  Well-being and peace are forecast in all aspects of life, with a focus on clarification of personal and career goals in a prosperous environment. 

Wishing my Chinese friends and colleagues a healthy, happy and prosperous 2021!

The Only CAPP Specializing in Asian Art in Canada

For Immediate Release

East Gwillimbury, ON, June 4th, 2020

With great excitement it is a pleasure to announce that Susan Lahey, MA, has achieved the highest level of certification appraising personal property as a CAPP with the International Society of Appraisers.  She is the only specialist in Asian Art in Canada with this designation. 

“Susan is a consummate authority in Fine and Decorative Asian Arts as seen in her work as an instructor and a specialist to collectors and art world professionals. Susan shows her competence through her knowledge of Chinese writing and language, and her developed eye. The International Society of Appraisers is proud to have her as a member and a welcomed connoisseur and resource. We congratulate her on achieving her Certified Appraiser status within the ISA.”  Kelly Juhasz, President, Canadian Chapter of the ISA

Susan is an award-winning appraiser and received industry recognition from the International Society of Appraisers with a Special Merit Award 2015-2016 at the Ft. Worth, Texas conference.  She is also an energetic member of the award-winning Canadian Chapter of the ISA which has won Best Chapter of the Year award three times in 2015, 2018 & 2019.

For the past 15 years Susan has worked as an independent appraiser of Asian art as President of Eastern Art Consultants Inc.  She earned degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Asian art from Sotheby’s/SOAS in London, England. 

She has held various positions at the Royal Ontario Museum in the Department of Near Eastern and Asian Civilizations.  More recently Ms. Lahey served as the Department head for Asian art at a Toronto auction house for six years.  She is a regular contributor of articles to antiques magazines and journals and teaches courses and webinars on Chinese fine and decorative art, as well as being a frequent speaker at conferences and symposia.  She volunteers on the boards of several community arts organizations, including the Ontario Arts Council.

Upcoming Live Webinar Appraising Chinese Art: Strategies for Success

Join Susan for a one-hour live webinar on Saturday June 13th as she presents Appraising Chinese Art:  Strategies for Success where she will discuss, What basic principles can a generalist appraiser use to identify Chinese art and when should you seek a specialist?  Focusing on the three traditional collecting areas of jades, porcelains and paintings, insider tips will be shared by an experienced pro in the field to avoid pitfalls and accurately appraise works of art in this challenging area.”  This two half-day online conference is being organized and hosted by National Appraisal Consultants.   Register here: 

Susan Lahey Appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors

Susan-LaheySusan Lahey of Mount Albert, Ontario, was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in April 2019.
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Susan holds degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Asian art from Sotheby’s School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England.  Her interest in Chinese culture and its arts led her to Taipei, Taiwan, for two years studying at Stanford’s Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at the National Taiwan University.
Susan is President of Eastern Art Consultants Inc.  Prior to this, she served as the Department Head for Asian arts at Ritchies Auctioneers & Appraisers, a former Toronto auction house.  Currently she is an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), an organization that maintains the highest standards in the methodology and ethics of appraising.  Susan regularly works as an instructor of Chinese art (both ancient and contemporary); engages in public speaking at arts events, and contributes articles to digital and print publications on the Asian art market.
Previously, Susan held various work positions at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Near Eastern & Asian Civilizations Department.  She also served there as the Program Chair of the Friends of the Far East, Bishop White Committee Executive.
Susan is an active volunteer in her community of East Gwillimbury, where she serves on the Town’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee.  She volunteered as secretary for the Foundation for Appraisal Education and served as the Art Society Convener at the Granite Club, organizing a wide variety of art-themed events and lectures for more than five years. 

Original article can be found here

Connoisseurship Short Course: Chinese Art – Listening to the Object

Connoisseurship Short Course: Chinese Art – Listening to the Object

March 17-19, 2019

Hosted by The International Society of Appraisers

New York, NY

Manhattan comes alive during its annual Asia Week with special museum exhibitions, auction previews, and gallery shows.  Our 2+ day educational opportunity in New York city in March will begin with a private tour of the Chinese Art Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday March 17th, conducted by Susan Lahey. There will be two classroom days, Monday March 18th and Tuesday  March 19th, held at Sotheby’s Auction Headquarters, where you will enjoy the Chinese art previews led by a Senior Asian Art specialist from Sotheby’s.  The approach studying Chinese art will focus on “listening to the object” in order to understand the quality of materials, techniques, workmanship, age and thus, value.  Topics covered will include:  porcelains, jades, and bronzes, and an introduction to styles of Chinese painting.  Visits to a top local Chinese art gallery, and the superlative collection at the Asia Society, will be highlights of the learning experience. 

The course will begin on Sunday, March 17th from 12:30-5:00pm, and will continue on Monday and Tuesday from 9:00am-5pm each day. There will also be other optional activities both evenings for extra visits to other auction houses and exhibitions if interested. 


Susan E. Lahey
ISA AM, MA, Post Graduate Diploma in Asian Art
ISA Member since September 2011

Ms. Lahey speaks Mandarin, and reads Chinese. She translates marks and inscriptions on paintings and objects. Susan knows East Asian Art from both business and academic perspectives, and is always delighted to share her knowledge of Asian art.

How to Register:

The registration fee for this course is $575.00 for members and $675.00 for non-members, before March 10. To register for this course please click here to be to be taken directly to the ISA registration site, or please contact Samantha Baron