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China's booming art market suffers reality check

Updated: 2013-12-02 10:24
( Xinhua)

China's booming art market suffers reality check

Abstraction, by Zao Wou-ki(Zhao Wuji in Pinyin) was sold for 76 million yuan ($12.47 million) on Dec 1,2013 at Sotheby's first major auction in China. [Photo provided to]

BEIJING - A total of 140 pieces of art, including Chinese painter Zhao Wuji's (also known as Zao Wou-ki in French)'"Abstraction," was scheduled to be auctioned by Sotheby's on Sunday in Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing's suburban district of Shunyi.

It is Sotheby's first major auction on the Chinese mainland, which will help introduce the foreign brand to the vast inland market, said Cheng Shoukang, CEO of Sotheby's Asia.

The auction is a part of Beijing Art Week held jointly by Sotheby's and its joint venture partner, Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group (BGCDG). The auction will offer modern and contemporary Chinese works with a total estimated value of more than 130 million yuan ($21.2 million).

The auction will also showcase the practice and culture of the duty-free zone, according to Li Danyang, general manager of BGCDG.

"It is a move under the Communist Party of China's call that the country will deepen reform in its cultural system. It will help make Beijing an international cultural hub," according to Li.

Approved by China's Cabinet, or State Council, in July 2008, the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone is the country's first airport-based free trade zone.

China charges duties of up to 26 percent for imported artwork. "However, duty will be exempt and won't be charged within the freeport and it provides a tariff-free storage service," Li said.

Market craze

Auctioned in October at Hong Kong Sotheby's, a painting by Zeng Fanzhi went for $23.2 million. It set a new record for a contemporary Chinese artist.

With $12.02 billion, China is the world's biggest auction market for art and collectibles, the French government's Conseil des Ventes art market report for 2012 said.

It is two decades since the country's first auction house was launched in 1993, when the opening of China Guardian Co Ltd allowed the public to trade art for the first time.

 Zao Wou-ki painting breaks record at Sotheby's China auction

Sotheby's to put Zao painting on auction block

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