The AFP’s Polly Hui reports that Sotheby’s has made a grand gesture by raiding the Chinese flag in a place of honor outside its New York headquarters. The Communist flag now flies at the center among flags of the US, UK, France and Switzerland. For Hui, this is an important sign of the growing clout of Chinese buying in the art market:
“We proposed it. To my great surprise, not only was the Chinese flag hoisted, it was hoisted in the middle,” Kevin Ching, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s in Asia, told AFP. Hong Kong has become the world’s third largest auction hub after New York and London, thanks to the rising political and economic prowess of China. Sales to mainland Chinese buyers constituted as much as half of last year’s sales in Asia for Sotheby’s compared to about 15 percent when Ching joined the firm in 2006, he said. Christie’s said mainland Chinese clients acquired the top-price items in six of the 11 sales categories and accounted for 21 percent of sales in its Hong Kong auctions last autumn.
[…] Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s international head of Chinese ceramics and works of art, said by acquiring works of art from their glorious past, Chinese buyers were rebuilding their identity as the country emerged as from a long period of civil wars, defeats by foreign powers, and economic backwardness.
“Holding a seal of an emperor in their hand is like holding a piece of that history,” he said.
Carson Chan, managing director of Bonhams Hong Kong, said the auction house opened a representative office in Tokyo in February, targeting Japanese collectors of Chinese art.
“The Japanese have accumulated a substantial collection of Chinese art during their economic boom in the 1980s,” he said. “By having a presence in Tokyo, we want to attract Japanese collectors who are interested in putting their collections on the market, seeing such a huge demand from the Chinese buyers.”
Chinese interest rules the auction world (Sydney Morning Herald)