In 1949 when the communist took over mainland china, many more pieces eventually made their way to Hong Kong. This was the 2nd time time, when the flow of antiques pouring out of China would spike.
Hong Kong’s famous “antique street” Hollywood Road, was completed in 1844 and was the 2nd road to be built in Hong Kong, after Queens Road Central. These were the very earliest days of the colony, and its role as gateway to the east was only just starting to become established. At that time, Hollywood Road was quite close to the coastline (significantly more so than today, due to reclamation of the harbor) and its near proximity to the shoreline, meant the area was never short of foreign merchants and sailors on their way back to Europe.
Over the years, having spent a fair amount of time in and out of Hong Kong, it suddenly dawned on me that (up until now), this famous Hong Kong antiques street in Central, has yet to be mentioned here. Adding insult to injury, is that fact that for many years, upon my arrival in Hong […]
Brian McElney was born in Hong Kong in the early 1930s, and for more than two decades was one of the territory’s top lawyers. But in his spare time, he also put together one of the most comprehensive collections of East Asian antiques in the world, many of them spotted by him amongst the knick-knacks on Hollywood Road and Cat Street. His memoir, Collecting China, starts at the height of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s, when it was just not known whether the Red Guards would storm over the border and start smashing up porcelain on the Mid-Levels. He also tells tales ranging from the Hong Kong of the 1930s through to the establishment by Brian of what is today the only museum specialising in Chinese antiquities in the United Kingdom — the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath.
This is a great article which gives a unique overview of the last 70 years of Hollywood Road’s rise and fall. Anyone who has worked in the Hong Kong antiques trade, or purchased items on Hollywood road will recognize many of these names and locations. And of course Robert Ellsworth has written many acclaimed books on Chinese antiques and also needs no introduction.
The trade in looted artefacts in Hong Kong began over a century ago, when such items were sold on Hollywood Road. Experts say Hong Kong’s busy port and set of rules protecting buyers of illicit pieces have allowed this trade to continue. “If you want to buy looted antiquities, Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world to do it,” says Steven Gallagher, associate dean of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law.