The Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2015 reveals a cooling Chinese market with historic highs in overseas sales of Chinese art.
Art Radar analyses the highlights of the the fourth edition of artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers’ report, which shows an overall decline in sales, although Chinese art still remained popular with about a third of the global art auction market in 2015.
The 2015 Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report provides an in-depth look at the market for Chinese art in 2015. Developed by artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA), the report publishes auction results from mainland China that have been vetted by a third-party organisation with insider knowledge of the state of the market in China.
Overseas sales of Chinese art, which have more than quadrupled since 2009, were particularly strong in 2015, while the mainland market went through a cooling period. The global sales of Chinese art accounted for almost a third of the global art auction market in 2015, demonstrating the enduring popularity of Chinese art.
Decline in the Chinese art auction market
The Chinese art auction market continued to slow down in 2015. The total sales value declined by 9 percent to USD7.1 billion. The total sales in China reached under the 2012 low, dropping 19 percent from 2014 to USD4.4 billion.
In addition, for the first time in five years the number of auction houses that offer Chinese art in mainland China has declined, which now places them at 274, 18 less than 2014.
Areas that are particularly affected by the decline in the market are the Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy sales, which continue to decline in mainland China. They are now at their lowest in six years in terms of both value and volume.
In 2015 there was a decrease in supply of 20th century and contemporary Chinese Art in both mainland China and overseas. The report attributed this to the ongoing concern of overpricing in this sector. As an indicator of this concern, the overseas sell-through rate in this sector dropped to a five year low of 63 percent.
However, in spite of this continued downturn, the market still represents 32 percent of the total global auction market according to the report.
Historic high in overseas markets
In 2015 the overseas market for Chinese art totalled USD2.6 billion in sales, a historic high driven by increasing demand. The average sale price also increased eight per cent to USD54,265, reaching a four-year high. As a comparison, in mainland China the average sale price was USD17,697.
North America had the largest market for Chinese art overseas in terms of volume, with the high sell-through rate of 61 percent. This was a 70 percent increase on the supply of Chinese art from the year before.
The main force behind the increase in overseas sales was in the Chinese Antiques and Artworks sector, which witnessed a 41 percent increase, marking a five-year high. This was the only sector that increased in both value and volume in 2015. On the whole, the number of 20th Century and Contemporary Chinese Art lots stayed about the same. High value sales were also a feature, with more lots above RMB10 million sold overseas (263) than in mainland China (243).
Increase in the high end of the market
In 2015 there was an increase in the lots sold below RMB500,000 in mainland China. It was at its highest in five years and reached 96.6 percent of the market. Another area of growth is the ultra-high end of the market of RMB50 million and above, which signifies an impressive increase of more than 200 percent. The top five sales were in Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, with the top sale (Eagle, Rock, and Flora by Pan Tianshou) going for USD43,065,187 at China Guardian International Auction in Beijing. On the other hand, the lower-middle end of the market, between RMB500,000 and 1 million, decreased in volume by 45 percent.
Hubs for Chinese art
The Beijing and Tianjin region, which has traditionally held the market share in volume in mainland China, continued its three-year decline from 54 percent in 2013 to 46 percent in 2015. The Yangtze River Delta region increased from 33 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2015.
The market share of the top five auction houses in mainland China continued to grow over the past three years, from 47 percent in 2013 to 55 percent in 2015. This was balanced at the other end of the scale, as there were fewer smaller houses that held sales due to the difficult economic period.
The report for 2014 stated non-payment as a key issue for the market, with a 22 per cent rise from the 2013 figures. According to the report, this has improved as of 15 May 2015 with 58 percent of sold lots paid in full, which is an increase of four percent as well as the highest level in five years. This increase was more marked in high-priced lots of RMB10 million and above, which increase by 17 percent in terms of value, from 35 percent in 2014 to 52 percent in 2015.
- Hong Kong South Island Cultural District’s inaugural art auction – in conversation – December 2016 – on the occasion of Hong Kong SICD’s first auction of contemporary Asian and Western art on 11 December 2016, Art Radar speaks to SICD Executive Chairman Dominique Perregaux
- Christie’s Hong Kong autumn auctions of 20th century and contemporary Asian art – round-up – November 2016 – Christie’s Hong Kong dip in their autumn sales for the category “20th Century and Contemporary Asian art”
- Phillips’ first 20th Century and Contemporary Art and Design sale in Asia – round-up – November 2016 – Phillips successfully closes first Asia sale of art and design in Asia with new records
- Slump continues in global market for Chinese art while Hong Kong holds strong – artnet report – September 2015 – Art Radar analyses the highlights of artnet’s Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2014
- 12 resources on art investment – March 2015 – Art Radar lists 12 useful resources for art investors, whether beginners or seasoned collectors, including online platforms, research publications and books
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