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Auction Houses Hoping For Record Season This Fall

Asian Auction Houses Looking Forward To Major Sales Of Chinese Contemporary Art, As More And More People Join Chinese Art Collectors

Top Chinese artists like Yue Minjun remain popular among Asian auctioneers and art collectors alike

Top Chinese artists like Yue Minjun remain popular among Asian auctioneers and art collectors alike

Earlier this summer, we profiled several major art auctions, which brought in millions more than expected, in both Hong Kong and Taipei. The success of the HK09 art festival and Ravenel’s 10th Anniversary Spring Auction gave the Chinese contemporary art market a vote of confidence in May and June, and this fall Ravenel hopes to continue its momentum while further cementing its reputation as one of Asia’s preeminent auction houses with two upcoming auctions, to be held in both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Ravenel’s first autumn auction of 2009, set to take place on November 30 in Hong Kong at the Four Seasons ballroom, should attract a good deal of attention from local and overseas collectors — particularly as it will take place after many other western and Hong Kong auctions in October — but particular interest may be paid to the second autumn sale, which will take place on December 6 at Taipei’s Fubon National Conference Center. As Ravenel is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this sale, and Taiwanese art collectors are renowned for their enthusiasm and occasional aggressiveness, this sale might be a highlight of the season. This is not to say that the Hong Kong auction will be low-key. Trend-watchers will keep a close eye on the makeup of bidders in Hong Kong, and if the demographics follow what we saw in the spring and early summer, it looks like local Chinese buyers will maintain their spot as one of the world’s fastest-rising collector classes.

Clearly, momentum in the contemporary Chinese art market shows that the global financial crisis, while it has bruised nearly anything and everything that can be an investment, has not slowed the new buyers from entering the market. Although Chinese collectors have “joined the party” later than many of their western counterparts, they are more than making up for it now as they become far more prevalent at contemporary art auctions in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Wealthy Chinese In 2020 — Luxury Watch Lovers, Art Collectors, Wine Aficionados

Breakneck Development Of Luxury And Cultural Sectors In Last 20 Years Indicates That Chinese Luxury Consumers Will Be A Huge Global Force For Foreseeable Future

By 2020, China will be a global financial powerhouse -- but what will luxury consumers be buying by then, once they've made their first "big" purchases?

By 2020, China will be a global financial powerhouse -- but what will luxury consumers be buying by then, once they've made their first "big" purchases?

Over the last few weeks, as the ongoing global economic woes further put China, and its relative insulation from the worldwide crisis, in the spotlight as a luxury and business “success story” we have seen a much stronger focus on the Chinese consumer. Observers look to Chinese consumption as one of the keys to a faster global recovery, and luxury watchers see news like store openings in China, auction results, and even stories of wealthy Chinese tossing their wealth around freely as signs that the Chinese upper-middle and upper class are spending again. Today, an article in Wealth Bulletin hints that luxury executives who are worried that the Chinese market is not solid enough to invest their full faith into that consumer class can breathe a tentative sigh, as they cite the Julius Baer Luxury Brands Fund’s 27% rise in Euro terms, versus a 17% rise in the MSCI World:

Julius Baer said in a report today it predicts profit margins will remain in double digit territory for many luxury companies, despite the global economic slowdown.

These bullish findings indicate that the global wealthy are still buying luxury goods, which is, in some ways, unsurprising — but this has to be qualified by looking into how these numbers have risen. Although the Julius Baer index notes a rise, it does not break down the demographics of who is buying high-priced luxury goods. Based on other data, it seems that the influence of emerging wealthy consumers from places like China and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East and India, who are bolstering the luxury market.

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Ravenel’s 10th Anniversary Spring Auction Of Asian Art Brings In $6.5 Million

Chinese Buyers Fill The Room At Taiwanese Auction House’s Spring Asian Art Sale

Chinese artist Wang Huaiqing's 'Flying Apsaras' brought in more than $1.3 million at this weekend's Ravenel auction in Taipei

Chinese artist Wang Huaiqing's 'Flying Apsaras' brought in more than $1.3 million at this weekend's Ravenel auction in Taipei

While the auction market has been somewhat sluggish this year — despite good showings in western markets over the last few months — the recent buzz building in Hong Kong, the mainland, and Taiwan recently is starting to get more attention. After last month’s hugely successful HK09 Festival in Hong Kong, where western and Asian artists were exhibited and sold briskly, there have been a rash of sales from home-grown auction houses like the mainland’s Poly and Guardian and Taiwan’s Ravenel, and the surprising sales at these auctions to mainland and Greater China collectors have stunned some onlookers, who had underestimated the motivation of these New Collectors. Going with this trend, Ravenel’s weekend sale of modern and contemporary Asian art in Taipei was both the company’s biggest sale to date and a huge success for Asian art auctions in general.

The sale, which all told brought in $6.5 million in sales, with the top lot going for $1.3 million, has positioned the 10-year-old Ravenel as one of the top Asian auction houses. With prices having become somewhat more affordable as a result of the global economic slowdown, we have seen Chinese and Asian art collectors step up to take their place among major global art buyers, and the buying demographic of the Taipei sale — which was predominantly populated by local and mainland collectors — goes to show that this emerging group of collectors will become increasingly influential in coming auctions, both in the region and globally.

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Gucci Plans 2-4 More China Stores This Year

Company Predicts Continued Growth Throughout The Mainland In Coming Years, Despite Continuing Global Recession

Gucci opened its 28th China location this weekend; the company sees China as a cornerstone of its ongoing global strategy

Gucci opened its 28th China location this weekend; the company sees China as a cornerstone of its ongoing global strategy

We have written extensively over the past few months about western luxury brands continuing to grow in China despite difficulties in their traditional markets — North America, Europe, and Japan — and how second and third-tier cities are key to  these luxury brands’ China strategies. This week, Gucci announced plans to open 2-4 more new China locations by the end of 2009 — while this may sound like a pretty insignificant number, given the size of the country, in these slower economic times it is big news. Currently, the brand has 28 locations in China — with their newest one opening this weekend — and Gucci appears undeterred in their growth plan by uncertainty in the global economy, as the company sees China as poised to lead future luxury consumption.

The Guardian posts this week on the company’s long-term China strategy, which sees the company projecting upwards of 40 stores within the next few years, as it scales back its presence in slowing developed markets and focuses more intently on cracking (and sustaining a presence in) China:

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