Beijing: the world’s largest marketplace for art?

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  • "Beijing: the world's largest marketplace for art?
    March 11, 2013
    By Sebastien Goulard | edit


    Vases on sale in a department store in Shanghai

    Vases on sale in a department store in Shanghai

    China has become the largest art market in the world. This could have important consequences for Chinese cities.

    The new urban upper class has rediscovered its heritage and has been exploring new artistic trends. Thanks to China's new passion for art, fresh talents have emerged and have been widely recognized. Chinese art lovers are flocking to the main international art market centres, where auction houses cater to the new clientele, offering Chinese language services.

    Since 2010, China has progressively come to dominate the art market. In 2011, China represented 41.4% of global fine art auction sales revenue, while the USA and the UK lagged far behind, with 23.6% and 19.4%, respectively1. Does this mean that Chinese cities have caught up with - and surpassed - New York and London as the leading auction marketplaces?

    If we take a closer look at China's art market, we notice, first of all, that this market is concentrated within a few cities. Beijing and Hong Kong represent the lion's share of the market, although Shanghai and some other provincial capitals, such as Hangzhou, are making progress.

    Nevertheless, Hong Kong is still the main artistic hub. In China, Hong Kong has played a similar role to Monaco vis-à-vis the French market. Because foreign auction houses were not allowed to operate in France until 2000, during the 60's American Sotheby's set up in Monaco, where French customers could easily buy pieces of fine art. Sotheby's and Christie's, the two main rivals, began looking to Asia in the 70's and 80's, opening offices in Hong Kong in 1973 and 1986 respectively. There, these companies could operate in a very business-friendly environment thanks to a reliable legal framework, the absence of taxes and the role of Hong Kong as Asia's main hub. When China s - Jacqueline Nivard

Tags: china, marketplace, art

by: Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine