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Chinese artists now lead Contemporary art top 100

05 February 2007Written by ATG Reporter

Share of places has risen to a quarter as prices have soared, say Artprice

A QUARTER of the top 100 Contemporary artists now selling at auction are Chinese.

The figures, released by online art market analysts Artprice.com in their annual league table of auction prices, put Zhang Xiaogang at number two, with $23.7m worth of art sold at auction during 2006. Only Jean Michel-Basquiat, on $24.6m, did better.

The share is even more pronounced if one looks at the first half of the table, with Chinese artists making up 30 per cent of the top 50.

“The figures speak for themselves: over five years, the prices of Contemporary Chinese art works have progressed 440 per cent,” say Artprice.

And they point out that in 2001, only one Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, appeared in the league table, in 59th place.

As ATG reports have shown, emerging Chinese and Far Eastern millionaires have fed the demand for artworks by their compatriots. That demand has been further stoked by speculative western investors, keen to capture a slice of a booming market.

Auction houses and fair organisers have not been slow to show their interest.

As reported in ATG No 1769, December 16, two new fairs are planned to tap into the burgeoning Asian art scene, one in Dubai in March and the other in Shanghai in September.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s have held highly profitable sales in Hong Kong for some time, and now, as further reported in ATG No 1773, January 20, Bonhams are opening Hong Kong offices and will stage three auctions at the Asia International Arts and Antiques Fair in May.

Artprice note that, since 2001, the entry level for their top 100 list has risen from $94,000 worth of sales to $720,000.

Ivan Macquisten

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