The Chinese Market - High Demand and Shrinking Supply

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Jason Chow of the Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the Chinese Art market. I am getting a bit tired of all of the news the oriental market is making, but when a market is hot, it naturally gets much press and interest.  Appraisers need to stay aware of these market trends.

The article states many dealers are concerned about replenishing inventory levels as so many top quality purchases and sales have recently taken place. I would assume this increased demand will place more upward pressure on second level and mid market items as well.

The increase in demand of Chinese fine and decorative arts can been seen in some local auction house results.  Just last week one of our local Washington DC area auction houses, the Potomack Company in Alexandria, VA had a sale with some very fine Chinese lots, some setting records.

Potomack stated in a press release The Potomack Company set a world record for a Chinese Jade Partial Zodiac Set (Lot 61) that sold for $164,500 and achieved the third highest record worldwide for a Chinese Carved White Jade Table Screen (Lot 74) that brought $411,250.

This sale at Potomack followed an earlier sale at Quinn's Auction Galleries in Falls Church which also had some excellent Chinese decorative art lots which sold extremely well with much competitive bidding.

Chow reports

But the ferocity of demand has created a new problem for dealers: Lack of inventory.

“If you told me, before this fair, that I’d sell out of everything, I’d say that was a good thing,” said Marcus Flacks of MD Flacks. The New York gallery sold seven of the nine antique chairs and tables it brought to the show. “But now, I’m wondering how I’m ever going to replace any of these items. You have to have supply to meet demand. Demand is huge. But where are we going to find supply?”

Players in the art market said that the new riches of the Chinese wealthy class have upended the traditional order. In decades past, works would be taken from China — sometimes under dubious circumstances — and sold to wholesalers in Hong Kong, who in turn would sell them to art dealers in the Western world. Those dealers would then sell to wealthy collectors in the U.S. and U.K. as well as museums.

But that pool of antiques has dried up, thanks mostly to interest from Chinese buyers: “This Chinese appetite for Chinese art is totally unprecedented,” said Michael Goedhuis, owner of Michael Goedhuis, a London gallery that specializes in Chinese art. “It’s remorseless, relentless — nothing is stopping them from buying. Nothing.”
To read the full WSJ article, click HERE.

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