Major auction house plans treasure hunt through the West
Updated: 2013-02-07 11:32
By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily)
A major Chinese auction house will solicit consignments from collectors of Asian art in the United States and Canada in the coming weeks, as China's art and antiques market shows it still has life despite a downturn.
"We want to get some more items to bring back to China for auction. People like to get their items to the Chinese auction houses because (the value they get) is better than in New York," said Richard He, chief North America representative for China Guardian Auctions.
The second-biggest auctioneer on the Chinese mainland will seek to collect treasures such as Chinese sculptures, oil paintings, calligraphy, handicrafts, books and ancient money during visits to Toronto (Feb 19-20), New York (Feb 23-24) and San Francisco (March 2-3), China Guardian said in a release.
The consignment tour continues Beijing-based Guardian's effort to take on its larger domestic rival, Beijing Poly International Auction Co, as well as the dominant art-auction houses, Christie's and Sotheby's, for a bigger slice of the global art market.
In October, Guardian began challenging the big players with a Hong Kong auction that took a Chinese auctioneer outside the mainland for the first time. After the auction generated sales of HK$455 million (about $59 million at the time), China Guardian said it would begin conducting auctions each spring and fall in the city to develop its business there.
Until 2012, the value of works sold at auction in China had been surging for three years. By 2011, the country had passed the US as the world's biggest art and antiques market, capturing an estimated 30 percent of the world's total, up from 23 percent a year earlier.
The Chinese market stumbled last year. The cooling economy, alleged sales of inauthentic works and other factors slowed down the Chinese art trade. During 2012, total sales at China Guardian and Poly Auction more than halved. Meanwhile, sales at Sotheby's and Christie's in Hong Kong also fell, wiping $2.4 billion off the country's art market, Art Newspaper reported.
Despite the downturn, the market remained resilient. The year saw China Guardian auction 22,695 items in four separate sales, generating a nation-leading 51.62 billion yuan in trade, the auction house said. That total included the sale of Chinese painter Li Keran's landscape, Shao Shan, for 1.24 billion yuan.
In October 2011, China Guardian's vice-president and director, Kou Qin, told BlouinArtInfo that the auction house's plan to open a New York office was aimed at gaining a better understanding of how its counterparts Sotheby's and Christie's worked. China Guardian opened the Manhattan office two months later.
Considering the way the market has grown in the US, Kou was quoted as saying, "the US can be an example for the future Chinese market".
"The US art market has such influence and credibility," Kou said. In China, however, "collectors love art but don't have experience," he said. "We are trying to build up the credibility of the buyers."
Hu Haidan in New York contributed to this story.
(China Daily 02/07/2013 page1)