Christie’s and Sotheby’s go head to head in China but avoid Russia

Apr 13th, 2013 | By | Category: Journal

Whilst Sotheby’s have entered into a partnership with the government associated auction house GeHua Christie’s have managed to obtain a license to operate independently and are holding their first auction in Shanghai later in the year.

It is very hard to obtain true figures of turnover in the Chinese art market because sales are often rigged and manipulated.  Turnover has dropped this year as the worldwide recession has slowed growth in China but the auction rooms see enormous potential for the Chinese market.  It is anticipated that sales will cover works of art, jewellery and wine but will steer clear of trading in ‘cultural relics’ such as ceramics and jade which is illegal.  Christie’s President of Asia, François Curiel, says , “We will also be able to make private sales … We are hoping to access Chinese collectors who do not necessarily travel abroad so much.”

Whilst the two leading auction rooms are pressing into China they are not making similar efforts in Russia. They both have a small presence there but are not planning auctions or expansion.  There is a perception that the Russians prefer to buy their art in London and New York.  In addition current Russian laws regarding Foreign investment are not welcoming, there is not yet a proper system of obtaining clear title to property and Russian import and export regulations are constantly changing.  Were the Russian authorities ever to address these issues then there would be considerable potential for expanding the local art market.

Tags: Chinese art market, Christie's, russian art buying, Russian art market., Russian collectors, Sotheby's

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