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Home / Business / The 4th China Intl Import Expo

Famous artworks worth $368m to wow audiences

By ZHANG KUN in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-11-06 07:59
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Visitors at the booth of Christie's at the ongoing fourth China International Import Expo in Shanghai. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Masterpieces by artists such as Claude Monet, Marc Chagall and Chang Dai-Chien, which are usually found in public museums, are stealing the limelight at the ongoing fourth China International Import Expo.

They will be made accessible to private collectors in China and be exempted from tax. A batch of artworks headed for the CIIE was inspected and verified on Oct 29 at the Shanghai International Bonded Artwork Service Center.

Unwrapped in front of media cameras were La Pointe du Petit Ailly, an oil painting by French Impressionist master Monet, Verdant Mountains in Sichuan, a water ink painting by the Chinese artist Chang, and Buste de Diego, a bronze piece by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

Imported by Sotheby's, the oldest auction house in the world, they are among the 178 artworks that are featured at the CIIE. The Shanghai International Bonded Artwork Service Center said 20 institutions from 11 countries and regions are participating in the CIIE this year.

Thirty-nine of these pieces were created before 1949 and have been recognized as cultural relics. The combined value of the 39 pieces is 2.35 billion yuan ($367.7 million).

Another leading auctioneer, Christie's, also announced on Nov 2 it would present eight famous artworks at the CIIE this year, including paintings by Italian master Amedeo Modigliani and Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-ki. Christie's is the only international house that hosts auctions in the Chinese mainland.

The painting by Modigliani, Beatrice Hastings devant une Porte, is available for sale at Christie's CIIE booth.

"In support of China's establishment of a leading art and culture arena at the CIIE, we are very honored to debut at this event, which offers collectors in China an opportunity to appreciate and acquire top-quality works from our carefully curated selection of masterpieces by iconic artists," said Rebecca Yang, chairwoman of Christie's China.

Arts and relics are among the new highlights at the CIIE this year following China's introduction of new policies to encourage the import of art and cultural masterpieces at the CIIE. Due to these policies, each exhibitor at the CIIE can enjoy tax-free trading on five antiques, artworks or other collectible objects.

"Presenting artworks at the CIIE marks a great opportunity for Sotheby's to try the new business model in China," said Yang Jun, deputy director of Sotheby's.

"The new policy that allows five pieces to be traded free of taxation is a great incentive for international trading firms, and a good way for Sotheby's to enter the Chinese market. We'd like to take advantage of the opportunity and engage with potential clients in the Chinese mainland, and hopefully initiate new communications with other exhibitors at the CIIE as well."

The CIIE may be the only channel for cultural relics to enjoy tariff exemption in the Chinese mainland, noted Li Jing, deputy director of the cultural relics department under Shanghai municipal administration of cultural heritage.

"It is a rare opportunity to bring together all the leading players in international art and relic trading, and we hope to promote the development of China's art market and help to build the city into a center of international art trading," he said.

Also making its debut at the CIIE this year is English artist Damien Hirst. Represented by the British institution HENI, Hirst has 10 artworks on display, covering all the important periods in his career, said Zheng Yan, executive director of HENI China, which was established this year.

Zheng said the decision to attend the CIIE came after she met with Jiang Mingwei, general manager of Shanghai Free Trade Zone Culture Development Co Ltd, which hosted the first Shanghai FTZ Art Fair in October.

The Free Trade Zone and the International Bonded Artwork Service Center provided professional and outstanding service for the Customs clearance, transportation and storage of artworks, she said. Following conclusion of the CIIE, galleries and institutions will be able to extend their display for three months at the bonded art warehouse at the Shanghai FTZ.

"This will help us to further introduce the artworks to the public and we hope to present Hirst, one of the most important figures in the global contemporary art scene, to the Chinese public in more and bigger events," Zheng said.

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