China is 'global art market leader' once again

China is once again the leader in the global art marketplace, according to the world leader of art market information, Artprice.

The report released by Artprice has revealed that China had been tipped to lose its dominance of the art market to the US in 2016, but, thanks to a turnover that was up by more than $570 million, the superpower retained its hold on the art investment world.

The report also noted a major uptick in the rate of transaction growth, which highlighted the art market's ability to adjust to its economic backdrop. This growth also shows how much investors appreciate a safe haven when faced with poor investment returns from other investment modes at the moment.

According to Thierry Ehrmann, Artprice's CEO, more than 252,000 Fine Art lots were sold over the first half of this year, which generated a turnover of $6.53 billion when fees were also taken into account. The Artprice report analysed more than 3,500 auction sales in order to give a detailed insight into public Fine Art auctions, which include painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, printmaking and installations. It noted that overall transactions jumped by 2.3 per cent, although sales turnover fell by 25 per cent, due mainly to the fact that there was a shortage of major masterpieces — those which have a price tag of more than $10 million — over this period.

The London art market sales rate fell by 30 per cent while New York's art market dropped by 49 per cent, due mainly to the short supply of these major works. The drops experienced in these two art centres had a vast impact on the overall global secondary art market, which saw 25 per cent fall from its value over the first half of this year.

The Western art market, according to the Artprice report, retained its strength, however, with the market's overall unsold rate remaining two points under the key 30 per cent level — above 35 per cent indicates a poor display, while under 25 per cent indicates a strong dynamic.

Other countries enjoying auction growth alongside China were Belgium, which saw a gain of 12 per cent, and Sweden, which enjoyed a 44 per cent gain. Turkey also saw a rise of seven per cent, the report confirmed. China took the top spot in terms of global art market sales, thanks to a major contraction across the top end of the US art market.

Despite nabbing the top position, Mainland China's art market still has some way to go to get back to where it once was — 22 per cent fewer lots were sold across its secondary art market, with its overall unsold rate sitting at 64 per cent. However, its total Fine Art turnover was positive, only posting a small decline of 3.9 per cent.
Hong Kong is to thank for the stabilisation of the Chinese market overall, being the only location in the world to continue to enjoy market growth of almost 10 per cent, and, as such, has been a boon for the nation's art market too.

Overall this year, China has fought back to the top position on the global art market stage and it remains the strongest market for Old Master art anywhere in the world.

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