Bloomberg declares the art recession over in China. Expecting (hoping for, really) $97 million in sales this weekend, Christie’s racked up an impressive $138 million. That strength had many observers touting Asia as the new market leader:
As Michael Wang, one of Asia’s top collectors, stood watching bidders at a Hong Kong sale compete to pay millions of dollars for paintings by Zao Wou-ki and Sanyu this week, he said he knew the art-market slump was over.
“There’s a hunger to buy, especially from mainland China,” said Wang, chief executive of My Humble House Art Space, in a telephone interview. “Nowhere else, except in Asia, do I see such a clear recovery in art buying.”[ … ] “We were surprised at the strength of this market,” Andrew Foster, Christie’s Asia president, said in an interview. He said buyers paid an average 30 percent more per lot than at Christie’s November auction, two months after Lehman’s collapse. […] “The Chinese economy has been relatively unscathed by the global credit crisis,” said John Berwald, founder of New York- based dealership Berwald Oriental Art. […]
Mainland Chinese were the second-largest group of buyers in the ceramics sale, accounting for more than a third of the top lots, Christie’s said. “It’s a matter of time before more mainland Chinese buyers offer top dollar for the best ceramics,” said Berwald. My Humble House’s Wang said Christie’s results may encourage more galleries and auction houses to offer their best pieces, even of Western art, in Asia. “If this is where the money is, the finest artworks will be finding their way here,” he said.