China overtakes Britain to become world's second-largest art market

China was accountable for 23% of the global market in 2010. That's according to a new report by economist Clare McAndrew commissioned by The European Fine Art Foundation.

The Foundation, otherwise known as TEFAF, is the organiser behind the art markets' grandest annual occasion, The International Fine Art and Antiques Fair. The fair is taking place in Maastricht, Netherlands, this weekend (March 18-17).

Hundreds of the world's top dealers will be in attendance, able to buy anything from the rarest fine art by Old Masters to Fabergé trinkets from the 16th century.

And a significant number of Chinese dealers and collectibles will likely be among them, particularly now that the People's Republic has overtaken Britain's position as the second largest art and antiques auction market.

Looking at the figures more closely, TEFAF's report says that auction sales in China rose to nearly €6bn. In doing so, they accounted for 23% of 2010's global market.

The United States maintained its 34% market share. The UK, meanwhile, slipped into third place with 22% which put it down 5% since 2006.

Experts warn against Droit de Suite

According to British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, The British Art Market Federation is using the report to issue a warning to the government about its proposed Droit de Suite, or artists' resale royalty tax.

It is planned that the tax will be imposed in 2012 on sales of all works by European artists who died up-to 70 years ago.

With the likes of Pablo Picasso consistently emerging as the market's top sellers, the tax could further divert big art sales away from the UK - especially considering that Christie's and other auctioneers are enjoying much success in China.

However, while this could have a huge negative impact on Britain's cultural economy, some Brits are still able to benefit for China's growth.

Like, for instance, the elderly UK couple whose Qing Dynasty vase unexpectedly sold for £192,000, earlier this week.


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