China art auctioneers eye slice of Hong Kong market

Sun Oct 7, 2012 2:37pm EDT
 
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By Yimou Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A leading China auctioneer holds a debut sale in Hong Kong on Sunday, lured by the city's international buyers, low tax regime and stable regulatory framework in a trend that could bring more competition for global companies.

China Guardian's sale of Chinese art and classical furniture in the former British colony follows its rise as the world's third largest auction house on the crest of China's art market boom, with sales of $1.77 billion last year.

"We want to win over more overseas market and buyers," said Wang Yannan, the president of China Guardian and the well-connected daughter of former Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang.

The sale, though relatively small, is seen as a symbolic foray by China's top auction company into the turf of goliaths Christie's and Sotheby's who have long dominated international auction hubs like Hong Kong, New York and London.

China Guardian's key rival, Poly International is also planning an inaugural Hong Kong sale in late November, while A&F Auction and Beijing Rongbao Auction aim to enter Hong Kong in one or two years, according to art market reports.

China's wave of millionaire buyers and investors have helped propel Hong Kong into the world's fourth largest art auction hub, with nearly 7 percent of global art auction revenue in 2011, according to French art database Artprice.com.

"It's great for competition," Francois Curiel, Christie's Asia president, told Reuters. "Whenever I see more auction houses coming into the market, the pie became larger."

Some, however, felt the field was getting crowded.   Continued...