China Still Holding Strong Against US for Art and Antiques

China Still Holding Strong Against US for Art and Antiques

In 2011, China overtook the United States as a global art market for the first time, a "fundamental and important" change according a The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) report at that time. Created annually by Dr. Clare McAndrew's firm Art Economics, the report provides the leading indication of the global art market when it is unveiled each year.

Figures for 2011 showed China had a 30% share of the market, based on both auction and dealer sales. The US took second position, followed by the UK and France. "The dominance of the Chinese market has been driven by expanding wealth, strong domestic supply and the investive drive of Chinese art buyers," said the report, highly reflective of overall shifts in the global economy.

The report noted that China would have to content with an overheated market and try to promote stable, long-term growth. China was exceptionally strong in the areas of modern and contemporary art, with many auction houses and art galleries opening up in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Skip ahead to 2015, and the latest TEFAF report shows the global art market grew 7% in 2014, where post-war and contemporary art accounted for almost half of total spend. This rise means the fine art and antiques market as a whole has about doubled in value over the past ten years.

The US returned to its place as the largest single market with a 39% share, but China held steady in join second place with the UK - a 1% increase for the US, 2% for the UK and 2% fall for China.

Auction sales of contemporary and post-war art have grown so phenomenally in both value and volume that they outstripped the pre-crash, 2007 highs, playing their part along with modern art to push 2014 transactions past 2007 totals for the first time.

The top 20 artists in this category, from Martin Kippenberger to Andy Warhol, accounted for 42% of spend, however, the report notes that "buyer confidence has been slow to return and many collectors are now more vigilant, particularly regarding provenance, and with a lower tolerance for what are perceived to be over-priced, low quality works."

It concludes "A lack of legislation on guarantees of authenticity and little legal recourse for fakes has failed to provide adequate incentives for many auction houses to issue full warranties and leaves little protection for customers."

Quick facts from the latest report:

  • Together, Christie's and Sotheby's make up 42% of the global auction market
  • Art fairs came second to gallery sales in importance for dealers, accounting for 40% of transactions by value
  • 68% of dealers felt the growth in art consulting was a negative, because of the lack of regulation and qualifications needed to set up business
  • Approximately 309,000 companies make up the global art market, employing more than 2.8 million people
  • Online sales accounted for 6% of the market; the majority have a price range of $1,000-50,000

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