China overtakes Britain in art market: report

Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:29pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - China overtook Britain as the world's second largest art and antiques market last year, a new report showed, and British art officials voiced concern that an EU levy planned in 2012 would further undermine its position.

"The Global Art Market in 2010: Crisis and Recovery" underlined what auction houses and consigners had seen throughout last year -- a sharp rise in the number of wealthy Chinese buyers, and, with them, prices.

The report, commissioned by the European Fine Art Foundation, estimated the value of the global art and antiques market in 2010 at 43 billion euros ($60 billion), up 52 percent from 2009 when values slumped as a result of the financial crisis.

"The period from 2008 through 2010 has been one of crisis and recovery for the market for art and antiques," said the report, released on Monday.

"Luxury spending contracted sharply in many countries during 2009, however 2010 brought the first signs of economic recovery with a rebound in consumer confidence and with Chinese consumers driving growth in many luxury sectors."

The report highlighted concerns in Britain that an EU art tax due to be imposed in 2012 could further damage the country's ability to cope with increasing competition from abroad.

An EU levy on the sale of works by living artists was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2006, and, according to the British Art Market Federation, was a "significant factor" behind the country's declining share of the contemporary art market.

Under European Commission plans, in 2012 this levy is due to extend in the UK to sales of works by artists who have died within the last 70 years, affecting auction favorites like Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti.   Continued...

<p>Visitors look at a ten-piece set paper screenprint of Mao Zedong by Andy Warhol, which is part of Warhol's series of the late Chinese leader, displayed at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during Christie's 2008 Spring Sales May 26, 2008. REUTERS/Victor Fraile</p>