Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2014

Collaborative report produced by artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA)

Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline Big Family No. 3
Zhang Xiaogang
Bloodline: Big Family No. 3, 1995
Oil on canvas
70½ x 90⅛ in.
179 x 229 cm.
Sold for 94,200,000 HKD (12,144,264 USD)
Courtesy of Sotheby's Hong Kong

The Chinese art and antiques auction market is frequently subject to a great deal of scrutiny, as concerns have been raised about the various problems concurrent with its rapid growth through 2011. Amid this uncertainty, data analysis on the Chinese art market has also been called into question. In a continued effort to present the most accurate representation of the auction market in China, artnet has again partnered with CAA to produce a definitive study of the market, which only these two trusted organizations can provide.

The Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2014 is the only report of its kind to publish auction results from mainland China that have been vetted by a third party organization with inside knowledge of the state of the market in China. The 2014 edition of the report continues to examine the global market, including the markets in mainland China and overseas, emphasizing quality and accuracy, with the goal of creating a new standard of transparency in the marketplace.

The report has been compiled by analysts at artnet. Data on mainland China was provided by CAA.

Report Highlights

2011 to 2014 Global Sales Value of Chinese Art and Antiques 2011 to 2014 Global Sell Through Rate of Chinese Art and Antiques

– 2014 marked another cooling period for the global auction market of Chinese art and antiques, as worldwide sales fell to $7.9 billion (¥50.5 billion), a 31.3% decline since the market’s peak in 2011.

– The number of lots consigned globally in 2014 was comparable to 2013; however, demand for these lots was lower. In 2014, the sell-through rate dropped to 48.1%–the lowest in five years.

– Regionally, sales in mainland China witnessed a 9.3% drop year-on-year (and a 40% decrease since 2011), while the overseas market was considerably more stable, and saw only a marginal decrease of 1.1%.

– Fulfillment of payment has long plagued the auction market in mainland China. In 2014, up to 63% of all lots sold for over ¥10 million were left unpaid or only partially paid. This non-payment rate is up 22% from 2013.

– The Beijing and Tianjin region continues to hold the majority market share in mainland China; however, decreases in this share suggest the market is slowly gaining ground in other regions, particularly the Yangtze River Delta region.

– Overseas, North America overtook Europe to become the second-largest external market for the sale of Chinese art. Europe witnessed a significant contraction in sales, purportedly dropping 29.7% from 2013.

– Over the past several years, there has been a considerable decline in the number of high-value lots. Comparing 2014 to 2013, this number has fallen from 429 to 389 worldwide.

– Some of the greatest decreases at the high end of the market were seen in mainland China, where only one lot sold in excess of ¥100 million, versus 11 during 2011. Additionally, works selling for over ¥10 million dropped 57% over the last four years in China; whereas lots selling for under ¥10 million fell 10%.

Expert Insights

Clare McAndrew

The Chinese art and antiques market has been through a period of volatile sales in recent years. While growth in the auction sector seemed unstoppable up to 2011, the last three years have been marked by much more moderation. While recovery began in 2013 amidst hopes that the Chinese art market had entered a new phase of maturity, 2014 proved to be another difficult year.

To help readers better understand the social and economic factors behind the volatility, why each market sector performed differently, and where the market is headed, we again invited the renowned art economist Dr. Clare McAndrew to write the introduction of the report. We hope that the context provided by the introduction, coupled with the detailed analysis of reliable market data in the report, can help create a deeper understanding of the global market for Chinese art.



Ning Lu
Artnet Worldwide Corporation
+1-212-497-9700 ext. 164

Yu Jinsheng
China Association of Auctioneers
+86-10-6839-1137 ext. 8017