"In a London auction if you stick up your hand for a lot, it's the equivalent of signing a contract to buy the item ... but in China, as we all know, contracts are more fungible."
So said William Hanbury-Tenison, an independent fine art agent in Shanghai, to UK newspaper The Telegraph in a report, published yesterday.
The article followed news that, as stated in the article's headline, "almost half of £1 million Chinese auction bids [remain] unpaid six months after they were lodged."
In the past, there has been much celebration following a number of successes in the Chinese collectibles markets, including here at Paul Fraser Collectibles.
You might remember when we reported on the record-breaking £53m bid for a Qing Dynasty vase found in the house of a Middlesex widow. She then struggled to get the actual funds from the winning 'buyer'.
According to The Telegraph's article, one Western dealer has gone so far as to describe China's auction markets as "shark infested waters" following such incidents.
However, it is important that we don't over-simplify the issue.
When you enter any market or situation in which you are looking to spend - or procure - a large amount of money, you should always be wary of "sharks".
This Qing Dynasty vase found in the house of a Middlesex widow received
That's why, at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we always recommend that you seek as much advice as you can before proceeding with a purchase or sale, and only go through third parties you absolutely trust.
As the global markets become smaller and more liquid than ever thanks to the internet, it is more vital than ever that you are cautious. Especially considering that many countries - like China, as Mr Hanbury-Tenison rightly points out above - have cultures which differ to ours in the West.
What's more, plenty of sales have passed successfully and without incident.
Remarkable sales they've been, too - including the breaking of the World Record price for a Chinese stamp four times in the past year.
And it isn't only stamps. Over in Hong Kong, last August, a fur-lined coat once owned by martial arts film star Bruce Lee sold for almost nine times its expected price.
The coat was bought by a US couple for HK$600,000 (US$77,000). Other successes in the fine wine markets have followed suit.
What I'm really saying is: don't let the negative reports put you off. The fantastic opportunities offered by the growing global auction markets are simply too good for you to miss.
But also bear in mind the above example of the unpaid for £53m Qing Dynasty vase: that you should take every precaution to fully enjoy and benefit from the global collectibles markets.
For more advice on how you can benefit from the collectibles markets in China and beyond, telephone or email our experts for a free consultation at:
+44 (0) 117 933 9500
All the best, until next week