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The focus of The Chalre Collection is Chinese and Asian Tradeware Ceramics -- in other words, Ceramics that were traded throughout Asia.  Tradeware Ceramics (Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware) tell the story of how the peoples of Asia forged social and commercial ties with each other during ancient times. 


The Ceramic Art collection of Chalre Associates came about through the efforts of the firm's principals, Rebecca Bustamante and Richard Mills.  It is their intention that a significant portion of The Chalre Collection become property of a museum foundation or other public body in the future. 


In creating the collection, major recognition must be given to Jose (Joe) Yusef Makmak for his considerable support and friendship.  Our thoughts are with Joe, formerly a prominent ceramic antiquities dealer in Philippines, who passed away in 2008.   




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Art as a Luxury Good

research has concluded that buyers of art conduct themselves in manners similar to buyers of luxury goods. Therefore, it is important to understand the characteristics of luxury goods so we can better appreciate art.  .


What are Luxury Goods?

Luxury goods are defined by economists as those with a high income elasticity of demand. In other words, people buy more and more of them as they get wealthier. An example is high priced time-pieces. We might acquire our first luxury watch only when we start to have high disposable income. As we become wealthier still, we may buy more. Conversely, if our wealth declines we will most likely hold off spending $10K for another swanky watch. 
Demand characteristics for necessity goods like food are very different since people dont automatically buy more if they become wealthier -- and they might even buy less. An example is regular white bread. No matter how destitute we become, we still need to eat a roughly constant number of loaves. But as we become well-to-do we might eat less of it, dining instead on organically-grown whole wheat breads costing ten times more. 
Income elasticity of demand can also change at different levels of income. Someone might collect sports cars when he is merely well-off then push them aside for private jets when he actually becomes prosperous a common scenario for some people in the Middle-East when oil prices are high.

Whats Special About Luxury?

The accepted characterization of luxury is a good that is greatly superior to comparables. Most product classes today have up-market categories that are differentiated into increasing levels of quality, features, styling and so on. 
In the garment industry, the Haute Couture movement of France is a better organized example of this. There are strict standards set by the French government and only a few producers are chosen for the designation. Garments need to be hand sewn and of flawless workmanship with entire teams of highly skilled professionals involved -- seamstresses, beaders, embroiderers, dyers, fitters, finishers, etc. 
Less expensive gowns can certainly be acquired from Walmart but people who desire garments with lasting quality and styling will pay what is required for Haute Couture names like Dior, Givenchy and Lacroix. 
Some operators in various industries have created entry level luxury goods meant for customers who are new to the concept of luxury. They exploit shrewd promotional tactics to create the perception of luxury but without the aggravation of actually creating superior merchandise. Surprisingly, this slap-on-a-logo-and-charge-a-ridiculous-price technique seems to actually work to create crazes for fashion-oriented products. Buyers tend to be innocent (and often younger) people. Due to its transitory nature, such faddish merchandise is not considered of consequence for experienced luxury buyers. 
Many luxury products are subject to an interesting pricing phenomenon that economists call positive price elasticity of demand. The perceived value of such goods rises as their prices increase. In other words, an attractive bottle of fragrance with a high price will be thought by buyers to be more valuable (in terms of its positive attributes) than if it were lower priced. 
The demand for luxury goods is closely tied to economic prosperity. It is not surprising that Asia, the worlds fastest-growing region, is also the fastest growing market for luxury goods. Given the huge populations of countries in the region and their economic resiliency, it is felt that Asia will be the dominate market for luxury goods for decades into the future. 


What's It All Mean for Art?


Japan's great economic achievements culminating in the 1980's allowed it to become the world's leading market for luxury goods and art during that same period.  In key segments like the French Impressionists, Japanese collectors completely dominated the market for most of the decade.  


It seems reasonable to expect that increasing prosperity in other Asian countries will have a similar positive impact on demand.  The remarkable economic success of China is often noted because of its enormous population and rich history of art appreciation.  


According to the Economist magazine, China has already overtaken France and Britain as the world's 2nd largest art market (after the US).  Apparently, the future is coming faster than many thought possible.




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