While volumes were down 25 percent in the first six months for Christie’s Asia, and up 15 percent in Europe and America, Head of Christie’s Asia, Francois Curiel, remains optimistic about the “changing landscape” of the Chinese market, and is impressed with the dramatic impact the Chinese auction houses have made on the market in less than ten years.
However, despite their presence at European and American auctions, Asian collectors are still not buying into new categories on a meaningful scale.
Why were the volumes down?
According to Curiel:
Collectors in Mainland China were less active than for the same period in 2011. Furthermore, the economy slowed down in China and there were talks about a customs enquiry earlier in the year on importing art in China. Finally, we had less Chinese works of art for sale during that period compared with 2011, because sellers who were not pressured to sell preferred to hold on to their property, as they were not sure about ways to invest the cash.
Teething problems of non-payment in the Chinese auction market have been curbed by the introduction of the deposit policy in May 2011, which compels new buyers or those without a good credit history to pay up to 20 percent of the desired bidding levels upon registration.
When asked if he believed the auction figures that are coming out of China, Curiel responded:
I look at them with a certain distance and it is difficult to gauge, but even if only half of them are true — and I am sure that the level is more — it is very, very impressive.