Chinese Art and Antiques Global Sales Volumes Hit $7.1 Billion USD in 2017

Caifu Magazine | by Star

China became the second biggest art market in the world in 2017, fuelled by the rise of young Chinese billionaires. This is reflected in the findings of the sixth edition of the Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report, as the Chinese market is increasingly turning toward purchasing high-end art and antiques.

From 2000 to 2017, wealth per adult in China grew almost fivefold, rising from $5,410 USD to $26,870 USD, the 2017 Global Chinese Art Auction Report noted. As the community of wealthy individuals continues to grow in China throughout the 21st century, art collecting is emerging as a desirable form of alternative investment among millennials.

“The real buying of Chinese art is in China,” Larry Warsh, a New York entrepreneur and collector of Chinese contemporary art, told Bloomberg in August 2018.

Here are the key findings of the 2017 Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report, compiled by Artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers: 

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Global Auction Sales Are on the Rise

The report found that sales of Chinese art and antiques totaled $7.1 billion USD in 2017, a 7 percent increase from 2016. Chinese artworks and antiques include porcelain like cultural relics, jade, bamboo, wood, ivory and horn carvings, metalware, lacquer, textiles, furniture, and teaware.

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Demand for Blockbuster Art in the Ultra-High-End Market Is Strong

China’s burgeoning private museum sector is hungry for blockbuster artworks to fill their collections, said Zhang Ran, director of Artnet China. Once upon a time, collectors in China have focused on distinctive Western works of art, but now their gaze is shifting toward prominent Chinese artists.

Both in mainland China and overseas, the demand for top-quality art was stronger than ever in 2017, with 38 individual sales of works are valued at $14.2 million USD and up – a new industry record.

The most expensive work in 2017 was Chinese painter Qi Baishi’s 1925 set of ink panels Twelve Screens of Landscapes. It sold for nearly $141 million USD, or 931.5 million yuan, at a Poly International auction in Beijing last December, setting another record for the Chinese art market.Credited for modernizing the gongbi style of classical Chinese painting, Qi is the first Chinese artist to enter the $100 million club, joining Western modern art masters Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch and Andy Warhol.

Zhang Ran, director of Artnet China, said all buyers bidding for Qi’s work came from private museums in China, the China Daily reported in August 2018.

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Sales of Chinese Art in North America more than Doubled

North America saw a 62 percent increase in the total sales value of Chinese art and antiques year-over-year, largely bolstered by a single auction.

Christie’s New York presented important Chinese works of art from Japan’s Fujita Museum in March 2017. The auction offered Shang and Zhou dynasty ritual bronzes, classical paintings, Buddhist stone sculptures, celadons and scholar’s objects. Six Dragons, a handscroll by 13th-century Chinese painter Chen Rong, sold for $48.96 million USD, or 309 million yuan, at the Christie’s auction in New York.

The landmark sale took in more than $262 million USD in a single evening, more than the total value of Chinese art sold in North America in 2016, according to the report.

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Historic High Price for Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy

The average price for fine Chinese paintings and calligraphy in the traditional style reached a historic high of $32,855 USD in mainland China in 2017. According to the report, this growth is still largely supported by the boom in the high-end market.

Twelve Screens of Landscapes Qi Baishi20th Century and Contemporary Chinese Art Market Remains Solid Overseas

The average price for 20th century and contemporary Chinese art jumped 19 percent to hit $207,423 USD – even higher than the previous market peak in 2011, the report said. The sell-through rate also remained high at 60 percent.

Overall, sales in the global art market reached $63.7 billion USD in 2017, up 12 percent from 2016, according to the Art Market 2018 report from Art Basel and UBS. Collectors in the United States account for 42 percent of global art sales, while Chinese collectors account for 21 percent of sales by value, the Art Basel-UBS report said.