China tops art and antiques league

A rare pair of gold screens by Chinese artist Qi Baishi at a Sothebys auction preview China is an increasingly powerful and confident nation

Related Stories

China has overtaken the US as the world's biggest market for art and antiques, according to The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF).

Having knocked the UK down to third place in 2010, figures for 2011 show China had a 30% share of the market based on both auction and dealer sales.

Total sales increased by 7%, generating $60.8bn (£38.3bn).

Dr Clare McAndrew, who compiled the report, described it as a "fundamental and important" change.

"The dominance of the Chinese market has been driven by expanding wealth, strong domestic supply and the investive drive of Chinese art buyers," she said.

An auctioneer scans for bids at a auction held by Beijing Poly last year Six years ago, Beijing Poly, China's biggest auction house and now the world's third largest, did not exist

But she warned there would be challenges ahead for the various regions in 2012: "The Chinese market in how to cope with an overheated market and promote more stable, long-term growth; Europe, with how to maintain its competitiveness in the face of continued regulatory and cost burdens; and the US with the challenge of losing its supremacy in the recent past."

The US took 29% of the market, according to the latest report. The UK remained in third position with a 22%, while France was fourth with 6%.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston, chief art critic at the Times, told the BBC: "People have been talking about China for a long time now and it's particularly strong in the areas of contemporary and modern art."

She added: "The dominance of China is simply reflecting a shift in the global economy."

Campbell-Johnston believes that simple supply and demand is at work: "There's only so many old masters that come on the market these days, so if you have enough money to buy one, it's a huge badge of importance. The Chinese and the Russian oligarchs are fighting over them - which makes it sound like a James Bond movie."

It is not just auction houses who have been opening up in China - White Cube, which championed high-profile contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, opened its first gallery outside London in a limestone-clad, 31-storey skyscraper in Hong Kong's financial district last week.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Entertainment & Arts stories



  • Shinji Mikamo's father's watchTime peace

    The story of the watch that survived Hiroshima

  • A man hangs a Catalan flag at his balcony near Barcelona in 2013Caledonia homage

    Who are the Europeans with an eye on the Scottish referendum?

  • Elephant Diaries - BBCGoing wild

    Wildlife film-makers reveal the tricks of the trade

  • Hamas rally in the West Bank village of Yatta, 2006Hamas hopes

    Why the Palestinian group won't back down yet

  • A woman dining aloneTable for one

    The restaurants that love solo diners

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.