Art market needs confident series of brushstrokes

Updated: 2015-01-12 08:14

By DENG ZHANGYU(China Daily)

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Early last year, Liu bought a chicken cup that was used by emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) at a Sotheby's auction for a record price of $36.3 million. In November, he offered HK$348 million ($45 million) at a Christie's auction for an embroidered silk thangka, a type of painting on fabric usually depicting Buddhist imagery.

After the purchase, Liu joked on his micro blog, saying: "I exhausted myself to successfully win the thangka from a foreign bidder. I was so willful." The post won him a nickname from netizens: "Willful man". But Liu explained later, at the Chinese Art Market Summit, that he bought the thangka due to his deep fondness for it.

Both purchases at such high prices have stirred some criticism from the public on the value and prices of artworks.

"It's childish to focus only on the price of an artwork. We should spend more time understanding their priceless value," says Liu, who established the Long Museum, a private museum in Shanghai.

Dong from the Beijing Council says the cultural environment should be more tolerant and that people should not criticize a collector because of expensive purchases of masterpieces.

"We should encourage more of our collectors to buy things overseas. They have set up their own collection systems instead of buying randomly. They have started to take on an international vision," Dong says.

To woo back Chinese collectors who have been buying overseas, domestic auction houses have actively diversified their artworks.

This year, the number of special auctions devoted to a particular category has increased sharply, such as hardwood furniture from the Ming Dynasty and antique clothes from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The recent auction of China's antique bronze ware by Xiling Yinshe Auction Company in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province-among the first of its kind in China-was a success, with all of the pieces selling fast.

Zhao Xu, president of China Guardian, says that Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has promised to invest more in the company's cooperation with the auction house.


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