Several news outlets have jumped to conclusions about the Asian art market based upon Sotheby’s Contemporary Chinese sale in Hong Kong just making its low estimate earlier this week. But as Artinfo points out, Chinese Contemporary is a category still very Western-facing when it looks for buyers. The weakness in Sotheby’s non-Ullens sale may have been signal that European and American buyers are not willing to bid on anything but the best works
50 percent of the top ten lots […] were secured by non-Asian collectors, including the top lot, Zhang Xiaogang‘s “Bloodline: Big Family No.1” (1994), which went to a European private collector for a total of HK$65.6 million ($8.4 million) including buyers premium, above its low estimate of HK$58 million. In recent times it has been speculated that non-Asian collectors were retreating from Chinese contemporary art, leaving the sector to Asian — and primarily Chinese mainland collectors — to dominate. But this sale showed that non-Asian (and particularly European) collectors are still pursuing key Chinese contemporary works and that, where the auction is less hotly contested, they have the wherewithal to secure them too.