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China Becomes World’s Largest Art and Antiques Market


China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s largest art and antiques market. Isn’t there anything that China is not the biggest anymore? These findings were based on both auction and dealer sales according to the organizers of the world’s largest antique fair, the European Fine Art Fair, to be held in the southern city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands.

I’m not sure how they gather all of these statistics, but this particular report came from “Auction Central News.” But there were several other reports on the web about this. According to the report, in 2011 China’s share of the art and antiques market was 30%, edging out the United States, which had a 29% share. The year before China had moved into second place, moving ahead of Britain, which was third in 2011 with 22%.

If this was isolated to the world of art and antiques, it would be one thing, but this seems to be a reflection of the world’s economic trend. The article went on to say, “the report, compiled by Claire McAndrew, a cultural economist specializing in the fine and decorative art market, called the development “perhaps one of the most fundamental and important changes in the last 50 years.”

I read this same basic report on at least five different sites, so it was getting a lot of play on the internet. McAndrew went on to say that the art and antique business has recovered significantly over the last two years after those horrible years of 2008-2009. We can personally testify to these hard times as we were forced to close our antique store in Dallas at the end of 2009, which we launched in the late 80’s. The antiques market never fully recovered after 9/11. I guess it is ironic that the owner of the building we were leasing was Chinese, and he was raising our rent while others in the neighbourhood were lowering rent for their tenants because of the tough economy.

China’s dominance reflects the vibrant economy in China and the Chinese investor’s love of fine art. They saw art as a substitute investment for the ailing stocks and property values. I know when we were last in England in 2009, the Chinese were beginning to be big buyers of antiques there. Here is a link to the entire article I read:

http://acn.liveauctioneers.com/index.php/features/shows-events/6839-eyes-on-china-as-worlds-biggest-antiques-fair-opens/.

A separate issue, but on the subject of Chinese antiques, beware of Chinese reproductions in antique furniture and porcelain. We saw a “French” dining table that was reproduced in China. Until the owner of the warehouse told us it was a reproduction, we were fooled. He pointed out a couple of ways you could tell, but these reproductions are far superior to others. I have seen some “Japanese Imari” from China that I doubt the authenticity. I just wanted to make you aware so you can be careful of your purchases.

Unfortunately, with the current economic conditions, I see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future. China might even get a larger share of the art and antiques market in the coming years.

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