Rupert Hoogewerf
Rupert Hoogewerf

A slowdown of art sales in China is not only caused by the anti-graft campaign or the economic slowdown, but also by a growing sophistication of the art collectors, says China Rich List founder Rupert Hoogewerf in Barrons. They are not only going for big-ticket super-stars, but develop their own appreciation.


The 7% drop to US$1.1 billion also reflects growing maturity and sophistication among Chinese art collectors who are broadening their tastes beyond big-ticket super-stars, and gaining an appreciation for owning art for art’s sake, says Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun Report, which published its annual art list on Wednesday.

“I’ve met collectors who said to me they were getting great pleasure from an artist they bought for 100,000 kuai (yuan) five or six years ago that is worth 1 million kuai now, but they don’t want to sell,” Hoogewerf says. “I’m getting that message more and more.”

Zeng Fanzhi, a 51-year old Beijing artist perhaps best known for his “Mask” portraits, was toppled from first place in the Hurun Art List by Cui Ruzhuo, a 71-year-old Chinese ink artist, whose auction sales soared 121% last year to $76 million.

Zeng’s sales, known in the past to snag record prices at auction, sank 42% to US$48 million. In October 2013, one of Fanzhi’s works– a nearly 13-foot wide painting titled “The Last Supper” – sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong for more than US$23 million, almost half his total sales for last year…

The popularity of ink ark was evident throughout Hong Kong’s art week, although only a few were reported as sold at Art Basel Hong Kong.

The 39 artists on the Hurun’s list who have held a top 100 rank for five of the last eight years should be considered China’s blue-chip artists, and the ones China’s rich should take comfort in collecting, Hoogewerf adds. Cui Ruzhuo, Liu Dawei and Shi Guoliang from this year’s top 10 are among the blue chips.

Many of China’s most affluent don’t have time to research the art market, and “that’s why this list is important,” he says.

Hurun Art List includes statistics compiled by China’s Artron from about 30 auction houses within China (the ones Hoogewerf says they can trust) as well as major global auction houses. By this measure, China has a 37% share of global art sales volume, ahead of the U.S. with 32% and the U.K. with nearly 19%.

More in Barrons.

Rupert Hoogewerf is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´ request form.

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