Photo: via Sotheby’s
China’s nouveau riche have a taste for art and the money to back up their hobbies.At this point, wealthy collectors are breaking auction records on a weekly basis–a private investor spent $2.9 million on the most expensive fancy vivid orange diamond ever sold at auction over the weekend, and last month a Chinese buyer picked up a $539,280 lot of Château Lafite-Rothschild wine, the most expensive wine lot sold this year.
But their real interest as collectors is in their own cultural heritage.
fuelled by the country’s economic boom, Chinese patrons are now some of the art world’s most powerful collectors—and they’re placing their biggest bets on the art of their homeland. Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby’s chief executive, said the Chinese are spending about $4 billion a year on Chinese paintings world-wide. That’s more than Sotheby’s and Christie’s sales last year of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art combined.
The result: The art market is being transformed by the tastes of Chinese collectors—some of whom are willing to pay as much for a Qing vase as for a Vincent van Gogh painting.
Chinese collectors’ influence is evident throughout the art market. At major art auctions in Asia that took place over the past few weeks, Chinese investors dominated, buying up both contemporary and classic Chinese works.
A Ming dynasty vase sold for $21.6 million, while Zeng Fanzhi’s “Mask Series 1998 No. 26” sold to a private Asian buyer for $2.6 million, just over its high estimate.
The influence of Chinese collectors could change the way the global art market thinks about valuing art, Christie’s expert Eric Chang told the WSJ.
China has the power to decide which artists it values most now, but will the West go along with it? There’s still a big cultural gap, but the West needs to start studying up.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.