The autumn art auction season is starting in Hong Kong with major auctions hosted by Sotheby's, Bonhams and Poly Auction Hong Kong starting this weekend. Unsurprisingly all conversations about the autumn sales are currently centered on the connection between the China’s weakened economy and the predictions on how the current economic climate might affect the upcoming sales. The auction house representatives are more than cautious when it comes to their predictions, but they do not look particularly concerned as one might suspect.
It is hard not to think about the forthcoming auctions outside of Chinese stock market context. With the recent stock market slide, collectors are spending more carefully. As the spring analysis showed, art sales in China and Hong Kong fell 30 percent in the first half of 2015 from $2.2 billion to $1.5 billion. The dropdown sparked the debate whether China’s stock market collapse can bring down the global art market as a whole. However, the further analysis showed that the purchasing power of the Chinese collectors stayed the same, but their attention shifted to Contemporary and Modern Western Art. With key auctions about to start soon, followed by the Fine Art Asia and Contemporary Art Show fairs, here are some remarks on the upcoming sales from the art market insiders.
Kevin Ching, chief executive of Sotheby’s Asia commentated on the approaching auctions for the South China Morning Post. Given the fact that the art market and the economy do not always necessarily affect each other, it appears that the sales can go either way. As Ching states: "When the market is volatile, more money goes to tangible investment that is less conventional like art. It is wise to put art in one's portfolio to reduce risks". Chinese artist and curator Zhou Tiehai also agrees that the recent economy slowdown might motivate collectors to buy more artworks rather than to turn their investments towards the unreliable stock market. In the end, nobody really knows what is about to happen, which makes it even more exciting. Therefore, we recommend that you follow the entanglement of the events on Widewalls auctions page.
In the wake of the autumn season, insiders expect the prices of the artworks to fall to a reasonable level. They also anticipate fewer mainland buyers to show up. So who are those who will show and save the day? Anticipated prices, more reasonable than before, are expected to draw the new buyers, notably the rising middle classes who are beginning to show their interest in arts, as well as corporations who are increasingly being drawn to the art market due to the economic woes. The insiders are also counting on the seasoned collectors especially in the field of contemporary Chinese art, but all of them agree that art fairs will be less affected by the economy turmoil than the auction sales.
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All images used for illustrative purposes.
Hong Kong, Hong Kong