Content library


Collecting & Collectables October 2012

The depressed artwork auction market will continue to adjust and fall in the autumn auctions of this year, but is expected to be out of the woods next year, according to Liu Shuangzhou of the Art Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Culture, and Deputy Secretary-General of  the Auction Association. He thinks that 2011 to 2013 is the turning point of the Chinese art auction market, and that 2012 is the adjustment period.

The Chinese have always been collectors, and over the past 10 years, this fervor to collect has grown dramatically particularly in the area of art, both Chinese and International. According to the annual report published by the Ministry of Culture, the overall size of the art market in China in 2011 totaled 210.8 billion RMB, ranking it the largest in the world with an annual growth rate of 24%.

In December 2011, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council issued a “notice” on the 2012 Tariff Implementation Plan, to reduce the art import tariffsfrom 12% to 6%. The expectation was that this would boosted market confidence, and analyst considered that as a result Beijing art trade would increase to $ 30 billion – 50 billion in 2012.

However, according to data released by the Artron Monitoring Center, in the first half of 2012 the total value of art sold at auction was 28.16 billion RMB, a 34% decrease compared to 2011 spring auction values, and has in fact returned to the level of the 2010 spring auction.Collecting appears to be suffering like that of the luxury market, possibly for similar reasons, uncertainty over a new leadership perhaps?

Over the past few years the collection channel has started to move from the individual sourcing items themselves, to a greater use of professional resellers and agents according a survey completed by Hurun.


Unique collection items

Other than artwork, collectors in China have a desire to preserve historical artifacts such as

Traditional quadrangle houses

With the rapid development of housing in China, many traditional homes have been destroyed without a second thought, and it is only now that those with money and an eye on the past are beginning to buy and protect old property. Traditional quadrangle homes of 300 sqm in parts of Beijing have become popular

Ancient books

Collected for their historical and not their commercial value, many collectors are looking to retain links back to the China of the past. Of course many were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, so in fact there is already a relatively small volume of them in the country.


Agilawood is a hardwood found in South East Asia that is light in colour until affected by a mold, after which it exudes a dark resin and changes colour. Due to over forestry, the wood has become rare and valuable. The collectable agilawood in the market may just be a single piece in its natural state, or finished product made of agilawood such as carvings and wooden beads.

The collectors of agilawood in China are typically 50% investors and 50% enthusiasts.


Comments are closed.