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China auction market: Boom or bubble?

12-21-2010 08:08 BJT

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The auction market in China is moving at a blistering pace in 2010, as shown from the spring auctions to the autumn sales. Record high prices are springing up one after another. But insiders's are divided as to whether these are signs of boom or bubble.

Starting at 35 million yuan, the 1938 painting by Xu Beihong was finally sold for 171-million yuan at this year's Hanhai autumn auction. The painting, capturing the scene of residents in Chongqing fetching water from the river, is considered one of Xu's best.

The work is one of the fourteen lots this year that has fetched over the staggering benchmark of 100-million yuan. A majority of the top lots are ancient calligraphy and paintings. The media have been describing the boiling auction market as "crazy".

But some collectors are not surprised by the scene.

He added that the limited number of antiques currently circulating in market is also one of the driving factors for the prices high.

Still some other insiders are worried about the possible "bubbles" undercurrent.

Xing Jizhu, Collector, said, "I feel puzzled by the surging prices for Chinese contemporary paintings. A piece of work can end up with a price ten times or even twenty times higher than a year ago. I just don't understand. And there might be problems in the market."

The auction market in China is moving at a blistering pace in 2010, as shown
from the spring auctions to the autumn sales.

Pundits suggest that the market in one way reflects a widening conflict between the public's increasing investment passion and limited options.

Many new buyers have chosen to switch to the art market after meeting setbacks in the stock market and changing conditions in the real estate markets.

However, as most experts point out, a cool head is prime important in a hot market.

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