China's elite collectors becoming more dominant by the day, study shows


If ever proof were needed that China is becoming the dominant country, not just in terms of its financial clout but also regarding its increasingly influential hold over the arts markets, then a study just released provides it.

Produced by the Conseil des Ventes Volontaires (CVV), the French Auction Market Authority, their annual report said sales of art and collectibles in the Asian country, including its neighbouring island of Hong Kong, had grown to $10.8bn. This was an increase of 137% in just one year.

This huge growth in such a short time is staggering, and is just another sign that China is becoming the world's main superpower. Tellingly, the country it overtook to become the biggest auction market globally was indeed America.


Items like this exquisite Chinese snuff bottle are being 'repatriated'

As reported by Paul Fraser Collectibles in recent months, Chinese collectors and investors are asserting their influence over a wide range of different markets.

The sales of jewellery, especially that which contains diamonds, have shot up in the country as the growing wealthy middle-classes lead the surge in demand. They are even having a huge influence of more specialist markets, like that of Scotch Whisky sales.

Imports of Scotch Whisky to the Asian sector as a whole grew by 32% to £716m ($1.15bn) in 2010, with exports to China rising by 24% to £55m ($88m). The Scotch Whisky Association says these sales will double in the next five years.

The idea is given credibility by the fact that China is now the world's second largest economy, having grown by more than 10% last year.


Sothebys diamond pendant
Brilliant diamonds are very sought after by the new, wealthy elite

One reason for the huge increase in Chinese involvement is the desire of collectors there to 'repatriate' much of the art which has been sold to foreign countries and private individuals.

The World Wealth Report 2010 suggested there are 477,000 collectors in China, while a study by the China Minsheng Bank claimed they spend at least $14.3bn per year on works of art.

What this new study shows is that the developing art markets not just in China, but also in other rapidly developing countries India and Russia, are becoming increasingly powerful.

This does present an opportunity to Western collectors and investors though, as it means savvy collectors can start looking at these markets as not just places where they can sell art, but also where they should be buying it from. As the clamor then becomes greater, it will be possible to sell it back at a profit.

In the next few years, the Asian art scene is going to be much more prominent, as so-called 'Medici' collectors look to assert their authority even more.


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