Late last week, the New York Times published a brief update on the state of play in China where Poly Auction dominates the market even as sales have slid a dramatic 30% and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have launched mainland initiatives:
Yet the Poly Culture Group, for which auctions make up most of its business, appears to be in an enviable position to ride out China’s economic storm. While Sotheby’s and Christie’s have zeroed in on the top end of the Chinese contemporary art market, Poly has focused more on volume, specializing in works valued at under $50,000. […]
The company has also recently expanded into Hong Kong, a gateway to foreign buyers and the longtime hub of Western auction houses, where Poly Culture’s sales have grown by about 50 percent since the fall of 2013, to $142.8 million. Western auction houses have tried to pull off the same trick in reverse, opening outposts in Shanghai (Christie’s) and Beijing (Sotheby’s). But Anders Petterson, the managing director of the research firm ArtTactic, said they had largely failed to make inroads into the mainland market. Sotheby’s in Beijing has been hit particularly hard this spring; sales dropped to $6.5 million from $30.8 million in fall 2013.
A Major Player in the Topsy-Turvy World of Chinese Art (The New York Times)