In 2016, auction sales of Chinese art and antiques totaled $6.7 billion (¥46.6 billion) worldwide, more than one-third of the size of the global art auction market. After five years of fluctuation, mainland China’s art market began to show signs of maturity, as the market grew in quality over quantity. The sales of Chinese art and antiques overseas, however, saw its first significant decline since 2012, mirroring the overall market contraction abroad.

In a continued effort to present the most accurate representation of the auction market for Chinese art, artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA) have once again partnered to produce a definitive study of the market, which only these two trusted organizations can provide.

The Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report is the only report of its kind to publish data from mainland China that has been vetted by a third-party organization with insider knowledge on the state of the market, along with comprehensive auction results for Chinese art sold around the world.

By providing in-depth analysis of reliable market data, coupled with a macro-level view of the global art auction industry, the report aims to foster a deeper understanding of this complex market, which continues to be one of the most interesting developments in modern art auction history.

Key Findings

Global Total Sales Value of Chinese Art

– Auction sales of Chinese art and antiques totaled $6.7 billion (¥46.6 billion) worldwide in 2016, representing a decline of 5% year-on-year. This is the third consecutive year of decline for this collecting category.

– Mainland China regained a global lead as the Western market experienced a contraction. Total sales value recovered by 7% in 2016 after two consecutive years of decline, totaling $4.8 billion (¥33.4 billion).

– Non-payment remains a chronic problem in mainland China. Since a larger percentage of the total sales came from the high-end market, where payment in installments and delayed payments are more common, the overall payment rate dropped from 58% in 2015 to 51% in 2016, a return to pre-correction levels.

– The total sales value of Chinese art and antiques overseas declined by 27% year-on-year and dropped to $1.9 billion (¥13.2 billion), mirroring the overarching trend in the overseas art auction market, which saw a 24% overall decline from 2015 to 2016.

– The market for Chinese art and antiques is becoming increasingly concentrated towards Asia, as major international auction houses shift their inventory to Hong Kong. Among this collecting category, the share of value sold in North America and Europe has dropped from 33% in 2011 to 21% in 2016, while the share of value sold in Asia (excluding mainland China) increased from 66% to 78%.



Ning Lu
Director, Price Database
Artnet Worldwide Corporation
+1-212-497-9700 ext. 164

Yu Jinsheng
Secretary General, Art Auction Committee
China Association of Auctioneers
+86-10-6839-1137 ext. 8017