Colin Gleadell previews the Hong Kong sales that coincide with ArtHK, the Hong Kong art fair and illustrates the importance of Hong Kong as an auction center:
For the auctions, the prognosis is sound. Hong Kong is the third-largest auction centre for Sotheby’s and Christie’s after London and New York. In April, Sotheby’s held its most successful sales ever in Hong Kong, which raised HK$2 billion (£178 million). Christie’s holds the record HK$2.4 billion set in May 2008, and is hoping for a recovery after last year’s slump to HK$1.1 billion.
With its central geographical location, easy trading conditions and lack of import taxes and VAT, Hong Kong is a natural hub for the whole Asian market, and is viewed as a gateway to China. Since China entered the World Trade Organisation in 2000, its art market has grown at a staggering rate. Between 2004 and 2009, it rose by 200 per cent to some £2.1 billion per annum, overtaking even France.
Add the Hong Kong sales and there is a combined auction turnover of £3.6 billion, which is 14 per cent of the global art market.
During the global financial crisis of 2008-09, mainland Chinese buyers emerged as a dominant force. While America’s wealthiest lost 20 per cent of their cumulative wealth, China’s increased theirs by 84 per cent. Currently, there are more billionaires in China than in any other country, apart from America, and art is just one of the commodities they are looking to invest in.
Art Sales: Sleeping Giant Awakes in the East (Telegraph)