Christie’s, the well-known London auction house, is branching out to China with its first auction taking place in Shanghai.
There will be 42 items placed up for auction, with £10 million expected from the sales. Art by Andy Warhol and Picasso, jewellery, watches and contemporary Chinese art will all be available at the auction. Although the economy in China has slowed, the chief executive of Christie’s, Steven Murphy, said that the auction house was looking to the future.
The Chinese art market is fast growing and Christie’s is one of the first auction houses internationally to gain an independent licence to operate in China. The licence places restrictions on Christie’s, like not being able to sell any artwork dating prior to 1949 as this would be considered a “cultural relic”. Restrictions apply to other categories too, like ancient Chinese porcelain.
Auction house rival Sotheby’s is also moving to the Chinese mainland, transforming the Chinese art market as the two go head to head.
However, the executive director of Poly International Auction, Zhao Xu, has doubts about the ability of foreign companies to compete against local auctioneers in the art market. Murphy responded by stating that “transparency and authentication” were also valued.
People buying at auction houses around the world often find a better deal, especially with larger items like antique furniture, at reputable antiques dealers. For instance, a collector looking for an antique bookcase in Preston would be able to examine the piece to determine authenticity, while not paying a buyer’s premium in addition to the sale price.
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