Asian Art ¿A decadent sector?
For months dealers and specialist have senteced a sharp fall in the market
From the beginning of the Asian art boom it soon became apparent that it was quite unique. The hammer prices fetched by lots from mainland China could comfortably reach seven figure sums (and even eight), and galleries and bidding rooms hurriedly responded to the public's enthusiasm by opening new spaces and galleries in China- the last gallery opened by Sotheby's in Hong Kong is rumored to be one of the highest rents in the world.
Now that the results of last week's sales, held last week by Christie's and Sotheby's, have dropped, some have displayed indignation but most saw it coming and believe it was only natural after years of constant growth. But more imortant than actual percentages and figures, are the causes behind the drop in sales. In fact, explanations abundant, there are many, varied, and for all tastes, and yes, some are contradictions. The Financial Times has dedicated many pages to the recent phenomenon, even Georgina Adam, editor of the Art Newspaper, has done her bit.
Some blame the pessimistic growth outlook on the Asian giant, which could well be slowing down. Others allude to the difficulty of accessing credit in some parts of Asia, and although China's monetary policy may not be encouraging the international art trade, it certanly cannot prevent an ecentric millionaire from acquiring a Qianlong plate- no matter the cost.
Other more original indicators to have been attributed to contribute to the slowdown- controversial too- are custom duties in China. The anecdote surrounding the arrest of two IFAS employees (Integrated Fine Art Solutions), took place during the International Hong Kong Art Fair. Custom authorities have acussed them of helping their clients avoid tarrifs amounting to 1.6 million dollars. Importation tarriffs can reach up to 35 per cent of the total value of a work, but specialists from the business believe tax evasion is most likely due to wanting to maintain their pruchases secret, than to pay the cost of acquiring art in the international market.
In any event they are all speculations around a phenomenon that does not seem to be real or permenant, at least not yet: Bonhams has just announced a new groundbreaking mark for their series of sales in Hong Kong which have totaled 40 million dollars. Alfonso Carbajo Agrasar
Publicity image of the last edition of The Hong Kong International Art Fair, uone of the most important events of the Asian art market.