A Renaissance of Interest in Chinese Art

By Samantha Hutchinson | The Australian Financial Review | Excerpt | Weekend 22-23 March 2014

Shapiro Asian Art

Recent decisions made by the People’s Bank of China’s sparking a steep slide in the value of the currency bring new credibility to their concerns.

Against this backdrop Australian art circles have witnessed eye-watering auction prices for prized items of Chinese art, -furniture and antiquities. Some dealers are pronouncing a renaissance of Chinese interest in Chinese art, culture and antiquities.

“We’re seeing phenomenal, very unexpected prices for Chinese silver, ceramics, [and] works on paper,” auction house owner Andrew Shapiro says.

Two blue and white enamel Chinese fish bowls from the estate of a Queensland society doyen fetched $30,000 at auction – initial estimations suggested final bids between $5000 and $7000.

A Chinese celadon lamp originally valued at $500 to $700 netted $6000 after a fierce bidding war erupted on the auction room and over phone lines between several Chinese buyers.

“It just wasn’t the sort of piece we were expecting that sort of competition for,” Shapiro says. But it wasn’t the first time it has happened. He said there is a growing demand in the Chinese community for artwork as an investment class.

“They now believe a great work of art, whether it’s Chinese or by an Australian artist is a legitimate part of the portfolio, along with wine, sports cars, silver and property.”

Another gallery owner remarked there was perception in the industry there is an element of urgency to the buying which is understood to be linked in part to a desire to put money into non-financial, less traceable assets.

“There’s a lot of talk the money is coming here for a different reason, other than the fact they really like art or they want it as a status symbol. There’s a lot of money coming in, and yes, it needs to find a place to go.”

Exceprt from "Corruption crackdown sends ripple of Chinese cash around the world", The Australian Financial Review, 22 MAR 2014.

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