The Telegraph surfaces these interesting tidbits on the domestic Chinese auction market. That market has gotten a lot more attention lately since Artprice.com made the claim that China’s domestic art sales have surpassed even the US to make it the top art market in the world. But China’s art market is rife with irregularities including manipulation. Now the Telegraph cites a law professor from Xian named Li Ling who has published research that claims art is convenient method for passing bribes inside China:
A typical scenario would see the person who wants to be bribed putting an artwork or antique of little value up for auction. The briber then buys the agreed piece for a huge sum, according to Ms Li in a research paper, ‘Performing Bribery in China.’
Sometimes, the auction house is not even required. In one case discovered by prosecutors in the eastern city of Nanjing, a property developer bought two paintings directly from a government official. The appraised value of the paintings was 3,000 yuan (£284), but the developer paid more than 333 times as much.
This would not be the first time art has played an important role in corruption. Japan’s art boom of the late 1980s had similar stories of paintings being given as gifts to disguise influence.