Business / Industries

Tapping world's fastest-growth art market

By Huang Ying (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-08 09:40

Although Shanghai-based, behind every expert or staff member here there is a global team guaranteeing local clients get the same service as in New York, Paris or London, she said.

The London-based firm was established in 1766. Its experience, talent pool and reputation is global. Still, it's restricted from selling Chinese cultural relics such as porcelains, ancient paintings and some antiques. That makes it tough to predict Christie's prospects in China.

Tapping world's fastest-growth art market
Christie's holds inaugural auction 

Tapping world's fastest-growth art market
Putting heart into the art 

It needs to work out how to adapt to government restrictions and differences in domestic tastes compared with those overseas, according to observers.

The Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone was officially launched in 2013. It sparked talk that curbs may be lifted on the sale of cultural relics by foreign-funded auction houses in the zone. If they were, it would be an opportunity for Christie's.

"Cultural relics' sale has been a significant part of Christie's total business ever since it was founded, and we have been working on developing this business all the time," Cai said. "However, all of our strategies and efforts are long-term ones, not just targeting the immediate benefits, which enables us to react in a better way to all the possible opportunities."

As of 2012, there were about 400 auction houses in China, 309 of which were licensed by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage to sell cultural artifacts. The number of houses in China is growing. TEFAF Maastricht, an internationally recognized body in the art market, counted 108 in 2005. That's about 70 percent fewer than now.

Before Christie's, Cai worked in public relations, joining global financial PR firm Brunswick Group LLP in 2005. There she took part in projects involving Chinese enterprises' overseas investment.

Those experiences offered the Princeton graduate the experience to promote an exchange between Chinese companies and the global market as well as overseas corporations looking to do business in China, with the world's second-biggest economy.

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