The renown British auction house, Christie’s, launched its first art auction Mainland China last Thursday in Shanghai. The sale has resulted to be a great success, exceeding low estimates and fetching $25M. However, the sale was part of the three day event organised by Christie’s, that provided members of the art world and clients from all around the globe with gala exhibitions, lectures an forums. Such a vibrant start could mean the future success of Christie’s in this country. China is today one of the leading markets in the art world with a remarkable revenue from auction sales. Nonetheless, the market has been strongly affected by the vast range of restrictions and limitations in the country. Expensive custom duties, hight taxes, as well as market manipulations, are driving the growth of fakes, illegal transport and forgery. Although the auction house has been operating in Hong Kong since 2005, it was not until this past spring that Christie’s has received the license to operate independently in Mainland China. Such fact is the most important move that Christie’s has done after opening in America in the 70s, due to the fact that, as previously mentioned, Mainland China has become one of the leading drivers of the global art market with very strong buyers. It was a perfect storm of positivity, mentioned Christie’s CEO Steven P. Murphy.
The auction sale brought together art, watches, jewelry and wine in Shanghai’s salesroom. Among the 43 lots of international works of art, only one piece remained unsold, Natura Morta by Giorgio Morandi, and the star lot was Homme Assis by Pablo Picasso from 1969 (image below). Such piece is an oil painting by the Spanish artist, and resulted to be the most expensive art sale in the salesroom, achieving $1.9M. Besides art sales, the most expensive item sold on Thursday was a ruby and diamond necklace fetching $3.5M (image below).
In Beyond Arting we will be excited to see how the presence of Christie’s in the country will affect the art market as a whole.
Have a very good week!