Christie's CEO confident about Chinese market
Updated: 2012-07-18 13:25
LONDON -- Although there is slowdown in the Asian economy, renowned art auction house Christie's is confident about the Chinese market.
In a recent telephone interview with Xinhua, Steven Murphy, chief executive officer of Christie's, said the number of Chinese buyers had increased over the past three years.
Sources from Christie's showed that 13 percent of the new clients in the first six months of 2012 were from China.
Murphy told Xinhua that most of the buyers were private collectors. He attributed this growth to an increase of Chinese collectors' interest in art and their trust in Christie's.
The main interests of Chinese collectors are old master arts, impressionist art and jewllery, Murphy said.
Making purchases away from home
On Tuesday, Christie's announced that its worldwide sales for the first half of 2012 stood at 2.2 billion pounds ($3.5 billion), up 13 percent compared to the same period last year.
According to the sales report, Christie's private art sales posed a very strong growth, rising 53 percent to 413 million pounds.
However, there was a steep drop in Asian and Middle Eastern auction revenues, which were down 23 percent year-on-year. Christie's Hong Kong headquarters reported a 22 percent decline in auction sales in Asia, with sales amounting to 231 million pounds.
Murphy noted that the drop suggested a cooling of the Asian economy and a tendency of rational buying of collectors.
"In fact, many buyers make purchases outside Asia," he said. Statistics from Christie's showed a 31 percent increase in Asian clients registering to bid in New York and London.
A time of cultural interest
In the first six months of 2012, Christie's auctioned 340 artworks for over $1 million, and 26 worth over $10 million.
Post-war and contemporary art were the most popular categories, registering sales of 576.1 million pounds, an increase of 34 percent over last year.
Murphy believes the first half results have "demonstrated a healthy market that responds to great art and intelligent pricing".
Asked if the financial crisis affected sales, Murphy said he did not agree. "We are living in a time when people's interest in art is emotional," he said.
The second half of the year began strongly with an auction of old master and British paintings in early July, selling for 85.1 million pounds, a record total for the category.
In September, Christie's will bring together Asian art works from China, Japan, Korea, India and beyond, including some Ming and Qing porcelains, as well as a green jade brush pot from the Qianlong Period (1736-95).