One of the world’s largest search engines for fine art and antiques auctions, is launching in China this week.
Barnebys, a Swedish-based online auctioneer, says it expects the new market to add 20-25 million Chinese buyers within five years, adding that “it’s time to feed the dragon.”
Western customers can also access Chinese auction house catalogues, thanks to the move.
The Chinese art market remains the second largest on earth, behind only the U.S. Sales in China accounted for more than 30% of the market total in 2015, according to industry analysts Artprice.
More museums were opened worldwide between 2000 and 2014 than in the previous two centuries, with the Asian market having the greatest share of the the 700 new museums opened, Barnebys says.
Pontus Silfverstolpe, Barnebys Founder and Head of Content, said the time was right to take advantage of such a huge new market:
“China has enormous purchasing power. In recent years, Chinese buyers have been behind many of the American and European auction houses’ most successful sales.
“In the beginning, the Chinese were mainly buying back their heritage, but in recent years we have seen more and more buying of ever wider categories, for example: Rolex watches, handbags, chandeliers, silver and 18th century painting.”
Despite Barnebys’ optimism, the global art market had a tough time in 2015. As Business Insider previously reported, global sales dropped 7% from 2014. Things were particularly bad in China where sales fell a massive 23%.