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Hurun list tracks slide in art sales

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-28 08:48

Last year was tough for art, with only nine Chinese artists seeing sales increases. Four artists doubled their sales, however, led by 80-year-old artist Jin Shangyi, according to the Hurun Art List 2014, released on Wednesday in Beijing.

The average sales figure of the Hurun Art List was down one-third, compared with last year, reaching only half the peak of the 2012 list.

The Hurun Research Institute, in association with Artron, China's largest compiler of art statistics, launched the list based on the sales of works at public auction in the year ending Dec 31. This is the seventh year of the Hurun Art List.

Zeng Fanzhi, 50, topped the list for best-selling living Chinese artist for the first time, with sales of 74 of his works at public auction doubling his takings from the previous year to a whopping $149 million. He ranked second in sales for 2012.

Since 2008, Zeng has consistently been ranked in the Top 10. Amazingly, Zeng overtook Qi Baishi to become the second best-selling Chinese artist of all time, behind only Chang Dai-chien.

Zeng's painting The Last Supper (2001) broke the record in 2013 for the single most expensive work sold by a living Chinese artist, selling for $22.5 million.

Chu The-chun ranked No 2 on the list with $47 million in sales from 79 art pieces. The 94-year-old artist passed away on Wednesday in Paris.

Zhou Chunya, 59, followed with sales of $37 million. He has seen the value of his work at auction this year fall by half, but he has still managed to make the top three.

"As more wealth is created in China, there is a natural propensity to look beyond another stock, another commercial building," says Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

"The purpose of the list is to provide an objective benchmark of Chinese artists, with a view to encourage wealthy Chinese to engage with the art world."

Artron chairman Wan Jie says: "There is a strong enthusiasm among rich Chinese to collect, but they often don't know where to start. This is where the Hurun Art List comes in."

The United States overtook Europe as the residence of choice for artists living abroad. Beijing is the undisputed capital for Chinese artists, however, followed by Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces.

Chinese ink painters dominate with 60 percent of the artists listed. But six of the top 10 are oil painters. The 31 new entrants on this year's list were led by oil painters Huang Jiannan and Ji Zhongliang.

The average age of artists on the list is 64, two years younger than last year. Among them, Zhou Song, 32, is the first artist born in the 1980s to make the Hurun Art List.

 Hurun list tracks slide in art sales

Zeng Fanzhi's 2001 painting The Last Supper sells at a record-breaking price of $22.5 million in 2013. Agence France-Presse


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