The Wall Street Journal caps a week of press reports about weak Hong Kong sales (that were anything but weak) with the opposite (overwrought) take. Chinese collectors are taking over the art market! Chinese collectors have become very important in the markets for Chinese works of art. They’re significant players in the wine and jewelry markets too.
As the Journal points out, Chinese tastes and interests are already revaluing objects that Western buyers do not covet such as ink stones and brush pots.
Even if the market for Chinese art is $4b a year, as Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht offers in the story, that’s still less than 10% of any conservative guess of the size of the overall art market.
But where the Wall Street Journal does a good job is showing how the shift from international buyers to domestic buyers is changing the practices of working artists. When they turn toward the Mainland Chinese market, there’s more than enough demand to block out foreign buyers:
Liu Dan, who studied in Hawaii and New York, uses traditional ink, pencil and watercolor to paint scholar’s rocks and dictionaries. Mr. Carey, the Missouri art investor, said his consortium paid more than $1 million last year for a “Dictionary” by Mr. Liu; Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang owns another. New York collector Patty Tang bought a work of his about five years ago, but said mainland Chinese buyers are now catching on: “He moved back to Beijing, and that was it—you can’t get a thing now.”
The China Factor (Wall Street Journal)