Collectibles are heading east as China's millionaire population booms

The number of Chinese millionaires grew by 9.7% in 2010, according to a new figures released this week.

Hurun Research Institute's latest wealth report estimates that one in 1,400 Chinese is now a millionaire, defining the title by those with more than 10 million yuan, or $1.52m.

Of those 960,000 millionaires, 60,000 are deemed 'super rich', with more than 100 million yuan at their disposal, testament to China's surging economy, which stands behind only the US in terms of wealth.

The report states that these top earning individuals on average own five luxury watches and four cars, and acknowledges the growing interest among these individuals for collecting fine wine and art, in particular Chinese works.

Earlier this month a triptych by Zhang Xiaogang sold for $10.1m at a Sotheby's Hong Kong sale, setting a new record for Chinese contemporary art in the process.

Rare whisky is also proving popular with Chinese investors, with figures from Britain's Scotch Whisky Association indicating that exports to China rose by 24% last year.

Wealthy Chinese are buying increasing numbers of collectibles

According to Rupert Hoogewerf, the Hurun Report's author, the statistics may be a significant underestimate, suggesting that China could be set to lead the way in the collectibles market over the coming years.

"There is still a great deal of hidden wealth in the Chinese economy," he explained.

"We estimate there to be 4,000 renminbi billionaires in China with only a third making the Hurun Rich List."

What next for the Chinese investor? The country has recently declared plans for human space exploration, which could well ignite interest in the field among investors.

The worth of Neil Armstrong's autograph rose by 900% between 2000 and 2010, proof that there is money to be had from the stars.


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