China overtakes US as world's largest art market with 30% share

China is now the world's largest market for art and antiques, a new study states.

The country's share of global sales rose to 30% in 2011, up from 23% in 2010, according to the International Art Market in 2011: Observations on the Art Trade over 25 Years report.

Commissioned by the European Fine Art Foundation, it reveals that America's market share dropped five percentage points to 29% in 2011.

The UK remains third, with a 22% market share. China overtook the UK into second place in 2010.

China's securing of the top spot has been called "perhaps one of the most fundamental and important changes in the last 50 years", by the report's author, Dr Clare McAndrew.

The world's fastest growing economy is producing a generation of aspirational art and antiques collectors, which helps explain why so many Oriental pieces are now being repatriated.

"The dominance of the Chinese market has been driven by expanding wealth, strong domestic supply and the investive drive of Chinese art buyers," Dr McAndrew writes in the report.

China's high-net worth individuals are realising the potential in art

McAndrew adds that a growing realisation that art can be an excellent alternative investment is also behind the market's buoyancy in China.

"Although recent economic turmoil has created a more cautious buying climate in the rest of the world, growing domestic difficulties in Chinese property and stock markets and the lack of other alternatives appear to have led to a significant amount of substitution into art as an investment by Chinese consumers," she said.

The Chinese art and antiques sector grew by 64% in 2011, the report states.

An artwork by Qi Baishi made $65.5m at a China Guardian auction in Beijing in May 2011, a record for a contemporary Chinese artwork.



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