Are you thinking of selling your antique marquetry furniture in Preston? If so, it could well end up gracing the homes of the wealthy elite in Beijing.
The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) has announced that China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest buyer of art and antiques. Combined figures from dealer and auction sales showed China had taken a 7% leap ahead in 2011, and now commands a 30% share of the market. The US lags just behind with 29% of all sales, while the UK – which dropped into third position in 2010 – accounts for 22% of the market. France is in fourth place, accounting for just 7% of all sales. While many of the antique cabinets now in Chinese hands are of French origin, English furniture is highly sought after too.
So, why the sudden interest by the Chinese public in antique desks? Cumbria’s antiques traders hadn’t even heard of China’s Beijing Poly six years ago, because it didn’t exist. Today, it’s the third largest auction house in the world. Clare McAndrew, who compiled the TEFAF report, suggested expanding wealth and a strong domestic supply of artworks as two drivers for the change, adding China would face a challenge in 2012 if it was to sustain stable, long-term growth.
The stratospheric rise of the Chinese market has been somewhat controversial, with irregularities and non-payment in the sale rooms a common problem. Record breaking prices for antique bookcases make the news, even if the money fails to materialise, leading some to suggest the prices on the Chinese antiques market have been deliberately inflated. In Preston, the Victorian dining chairs sold by your local antique dealer are always honestly priced.
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