China Steals Global Art Market Dominance From USA

International Art Market

China is now the world’s biggest market for art and antiques, ending the USA’s decades of domination

Hailed by the finders, as ‘perhaps one of the most fundamental and important changes in the last 50 years’, this historic moment – indicating the wider general movements in the global economy as a whole – has been revealed by a new report; ‘The International Art Market in 2011: Observations on the Art Trade over 25 Years’.

The report demonstrates how China’s share of the global art market rose from 23% in 2010 to 30% last year, forcing the United States, with 29%, into second place. The UK, which was overtaken by China in 2010, remained third with a 22% market share, while France was a straggling fourth with 6%.

But this is not a story of Western diminishment, but rather one of Chinese boom time. Overall – and largely thanks to the powerful art buying surge in China – art and antiques sales rose by 7% to €46.1 billion in 2011 – that’s an increase of 63% from the market crisis of 2009.

The principal findings of the report are:

  • China overtook the US for the first time in 2011 to become the largest art and antiques market worldwide, with a 30% share of auction and dealer sales
  • The US share dropped by 5% to 29%
  • The combined total for the 27 European Union countries was is down by 3% to 34%. But, among the EU nations, the largest markets were the UK with 22% of the global total and France with 6%, both which were unchanged
  • The Chinese art and antiques auction sector grew an incredible 177% in 2010 and a further 64% in 2011
  • The global art market continued recovery in 2011, increasing by 7% to €46.1 billion – an increase of 63% since the market crisis of 2009
  • The volume of transactions also increased by 5% to 36.8 million
  • The principle forces behind the recovery is strong sales in the Chinese auction market and the general rise of fine art sales
  • The art market has more than doubled in size in the 25 years, growing over 575% from its lowest point in 1991 (just under US$10 billion) to its highest in 2007 (US$66 billion/€48.1 billion).

Crucially, the report states that; ‘Apart from its rapid increase in size, the last decade has witnessed significant changes in the art market’s geographical distribution of sales’.

‘The next decade will be the first period when emerging market countries contribute more to global economic growth than developed ones’.

 ‘The dominance of the Chinese market has been driven by expanding wealth, strong domestic supply and the investive drive of Chinese art buyers. Although recent economic turmoil has created a more cautious buying climate in the rest of the world, growing domestic difficulties in Chinese property and stock markets and the lack of other alternatives appear to have led to a significant amount of substitution into art as an investment by Chinese consumers.’

‘However all regions will be facing challenges in 2012 and beyond: the Chinese art market in how to cope with an overheated market and promote more stable, long-term growth; Europe, with how to maintain its competitiveness in the face of continued regulatory and cost burdens: and the US, with the challenge of losing its supremacy during the recent past as the centre for demand and supply in the market.’

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