China Moves Ahead in the Art Market

When it comes to art transactions at auctions and through dealers and galleries, China almost always falls behind the United States and the United Kingdom. The Asian art market has never dominated the global art world, but this may be about to change. According to the last year’s reports; China played the biggest role in the market of global sales of art and antiques at open auctions. The spring Asia Contemporary Art Show showed an astonishing attendance and cemented Hong Kong at a high position in the jet set of the art world. So, is China taking a big leap in the art market world and is it becoming the next big thing?

Even though reports show Chinese auction sales summed up 34% of the world total in value, with the US and the UK falling behind with 32% and 18% respectively, it is important to note that these results do not include the deals made by dealers and galleries at sales exhibitions and art fairs, which are a major part of the art market. Online sales are an ever-expanding market which is still developing, and China isn’t first in that area either.

With regards to the global share by value, The United States is still dominating with 40% of the share, the United Kingdom is behind with 21%, and China is following closely with 20%. The results were combined from the reports published by Art Basel, UBS and Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics. So, what puts China in the leading position when it comes to auction sales?

In the year behind us, Chinese auctions saw numerous expensive sales in the classical Chinese paintings and antiques market. With numbers going as high as $44m and $20m for single pieces, it is no wonder auction sales dominated the market in China with a share of 68% by value. McAndrew claims China’s leading position in auction sales is a direct result of a decline in the US, combined with a stable performance at the high end in the domestic salerooms.

Art market specialists say the China’s art auction market still needs to grow and widen its view. Almost all the objects in the domestic salerooms are Chinese works of art and antiquity, and the buyers should be more exposed to the global market and the diversified offers from around the world. The well-developed domestic market is a great potential for becoming a global art trade center.

Another important aspect behind the success of the Chinese art market is the integrity. There have been fewer cases of counterfeit antiques and swindles in the salerooms. Hired shills who falsely bid on items only to push up the prices and mislead other potential bidders are almost completely gone. All of this, followed by a steady bloom of auction houses and a flow of high prices can certainly put China on the way to the top of the global art market.

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