Chinese art market boom grinds to a halt

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by Annika Backe

October 22, 2015 – For years now, the art world keeps looking east. Chinese art works obtain record prices and more than one internationally operating auction house can rely on the Chinese buyers to generate large turnovers. Analyzing the results from 2014, however, a report now concludes that the upward spiral has stopped for the time being.

Test strike of the companies Schuler and Beh for the Heilungkiang Province. 20 cents n. d. (1897) in brass. Nearly FDC. Künker 249 (2014), 460. Estimate: 5,000 euros. Hammer price: 75,000,- euros.

The 2014 Global Chinese Art Market Report, released by the China Association of Auctioneers and artnet, presents an examination of the sales figures of auction houses and galleries active in the department of Chinese art works. As a matter of fact, the previous year witnessed a cooling period for the global as well as the Chinese market. Achieving results as high as several million dollars between 2011 and 2013, the prices for Chinese art works and antiques plummeted in 2014. With a drop of nearly 30%, Europe witnessed the most significant contraction of sales. 
The sales figures coming to a halt also in mainland China might be due to the fact that the buyers pay increasing attention to quality and provenance. But it could also be a first result of the efforts of the Chinese government: starting in 2012, the authorities engage in the fight against corruption, bribery and money laundring, and monitor the trade in art works and antiques, including coins, in particular. 
The economy showing signs of weakness, the Chinese buyers are currently somewhat reluctant to invest their money in works of art and show an increased sensitivity to all kinds of counterfeits. 

Chinese calligraphy, Tang Dynasty (627-659).

Overseas, North America overtook Europe as the most important market for Chinese art. While mainland China particularly favors Chinese paintings and calligaphy, the foreign markets, on the other hand, prefer Chinese antiques, including coins. 

What lies ahead? Certainly, no conclusive results can be given for 2015 yet, but, from the looks of it, a new boom does not seem very likely. Nevertheless, the market for Chinese art, antiques and coins will continue be to very attractive for investors and art fans alike. 

You may download the report from the artnet website

Please find the website of the China Association of Auctioneers here.