China Outpaces France, Targets New York For Top Art Auction Sales

London Takes #1 Spot As China Rapidly Approaches Second Place

Gang Zhao, There is an America, 2007

Gang Zhao, There is an America, 2007

Artinfo points out today that New York has lost its top spot in art auction sales to London. With the pain of the financial crisis biting wallets and disappointing November sales, New York has seen its traditional lead on London dissipate in 2008. Some may not be surprised by this, given London’s advantage of hosting Damien Hirst’s one-man auction, but what is more of a surprise is China overtaking France for the third-place spot. With auctions in China continuing to do well even during the financial crisis, New York and London are firmly within the China auction market’s sights.

In 2008, New York’s auction market produced only $2.9 billion, down approximately 23 percent from a year ago and falling behind London, the new global leader in art auction sales. According to Artprice‘s 2008 Art Market Trends report, New York’s share of global art sales fell from 43 to 35.6 percent.

Concurrently, London sales increased $271 million from 2007 to 2008, eclipsing New York’s cumulative sales by $8 million, according to the report. London’s overall numbers benefited strongly from the success of Damien Hirst‘s single-artist auction, “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” and a July 1 Sotheby’s contemporary art sale that garnered £80 million ($116 million), a record-setting result for a summer sale in Europe.

Flying in the face of predictions or commentary that suggests China’s art market is done for, the report shows that China, as the third-largest auction market, ahead of France, is actually well-placed to remain a substantial force in the auction industry. A report, released by Arton, China’s largest online art publishing house, gives more details about China’s growing clout in the art auction market:

The [Arton] report, based on the statistics of the world’s 119 auction houses, shows that the turnover of China artwork rose by 29.10 percent [over] 2006, with a large number of ancient Chinese paintings, porcelain, and contemporary paintings hitting the 10 million U.S. dollars auction price last year.

About 226 Chinese art pieces, each with a base price more than 10 million yuan (about $1.3 million), were auctioned globally in 2007, double that of the previous year, says the report.

Arton‘s report also puts some of the Chinese figures into perspective, showing that art collectors continue to disagree with commentators who feel Chinese artists have no place among top world artists, adding that the 2008 report found that of the 35 top-selling contemporary artists in the world, 15 were Chinese in 2007. With the adjustment in art prices we’ve seen in all art classes this year, I would expect that these numbers should stay the same, but with the financial crisis hitting all asset classes globally, we might see China unseat New York in auction earnings next year.

6 responses to “China Outpaces France, Targets New York For Top Art Auction Sales

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