Artprice: after recovering top position, is China preparing the final attack with Sotheby’s – addendum to Artprice’s H1 Art Martket report.

During the first half of 2016, China beat the United States to first place on the global art market.

In the H1 Art Market report published in collaboration with Chinese institutional partner, the Artron Group and AMMA [Art Market Monitor by Artron] headed by Wan Jie, Artprice announced that, defying all forecasts, China had upped 18% and recovered top position from the USA.

Mainland China’s art market is still undergoing substantial readjustment: its secondary art market sold fewer lots (down 22%) and its overall unsold rate remains high (at 64%), but its total Fine Art turnover posted an +18% increase.

China’s problem with unsettled bids has now been resolved by an extremely strict legal framework that has been in force for 2 years, making the Chinese Art Market the world’s most controlled and reliable market.

Hong Kong — an integral part of the People’s Republic of China — is at the heart of the process of stabilisation of the Chinese market and is proving to be of paramount importance for the nation’s art market.

Hong Kong is the only major marketplace in the world that has continued to post market growth (nearly +10%) and it is clearly keeping the Chinese art market alive.

The ‘soft power’ battle for the leadership of the Art Market that confronts China and the USA took a major turn with Taikang Life Insurance taking 13.5% of the American auction house’s capital. Its CEO, Chen Dongshen, owns Chinese auction house China Guardian, the top 4th auction house worldwide.

This reignites speculation as to whether Bonhams UK could be sold to Poly Auction.

As Taikang, of which China Guardian holds a 24% stake, has joined Sotheby’s capital, it has also become Sotheby’s biggest shareholder.

Chen Dongshen’s acquisition of Sotheby’s capital is the result of his lifelong passion. He founded China Guardian 25 years ago, three years before founding insurance company Taikang, which shareholders include, among others, Goldman Sachs (13%) and a Singapore fund.

Fifty-nine year old Chen Dongshen was born in 1957 in central China’s Hubei province. He earned a doctorate in economics from Wuhan University, and worked as chief editor of a government-owned business magazine before founding China Guardian in 1993. Chen Dongshen also happens to have married Mao Zedong’s granddaughter.

Chen Dongshen had thoroughly examined and analysed Sotheby’s Hong Kong events to optimise auctions at China Guardian. He has mixed his interests in art and insurance and prominently displays traditional Chinese calligraphy and paintings in his offices.

In Beijing, a Guardian Art Center is under construction and its Museum clearly aims at international recognition.

According to Tad Smith, Sotheby’s chief executive, the auction house’s board met with Taikang’s executives and warmly welcome their support of Sotheby’s strategic initiatives.

China Guardian posted $553,020,191 in turnover last year and is Taikang’s biggest shareholder, with a 24% stake. The Artprice figures cover public auctions of Fine Art (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking and installations).

Sotheby’s, the only major auctioneer whose capital is traded on the stock market and listed in New York, enjoyed a 28.3% increase in its share price since 1 January 2016, suggesting that the financial markets are confident in the art market.

La consolidation des deux Maisons de Ventes donnerait à l’entité nouvellement formée une place de leader mondial incontestée et scellerait définitivement la Chine comme n°1 mondial du Marché de l’Art.


2015 ranking of auction houses  

Auction house


Lots sold







Poly International



China Guardian






Beijing Council International Auctions



Shanghai Jiahe



Xiling Yinshe Auction



Beijing Hanhai Art Auction Co.Ltd.






H1 2016 ranking of auction houses  

Auction house


Lots sold







Poly Auction



China Guardian Auctions



Beijing Council International Auctions






Xiling Yinshe Auction






Holly International Co.Ltd



Beijing Tranthy International Auction




Reminder of Artprice’s previous release: H1 2016 Art Market report. Defying all forecasts… China upped 18%, recovered top position

  1. China returns to the leader position as the world’s largest art marketplace with a +18% increase

  2. Hong Kong posted H1 growth of 10%

  3. Market liquidity has been guaranteed by transactions volumes up 3.2%

  4. The Western auction market posted a stable unsold rate of 28%

  5. Low supply of masterpieces reduces Western auctioneers’ turnover

  6. Fewer records, but stronger activity

  7. The market price index gained 10% in the 2nd quarter of 2016

Full report available on line for free at

Copyright thierry Ehrmann 2016

About Artprice:

Artprice is listed on the Eurolist by Euronext Paris, SRD long only and Euroclear: 7478 – Bloomberg: PRC – Reuters: ARTF.

Artprice is the global leader in art price and art index databanks. It has over 30 million indices and auction results covering more than 625,000 artists. Artprice Images(R) gives unlimited access to the largest Art Market resource in the world: a library of 126 million images or prints of artworks from the year 1700 to the present day, along with comments by Artprice’s art historians.

Artprice permanently enriches its databanks with information from 4,500 auctioneers and it publishes a constant flow of art market trends for the world’s principal news agencies and approximately 7,200 international press publications. For its 4,500 000 members, Artprice gives access to the world’s leading Standardised Marketplace for buying and selling art. BPI-labelled Artprice develops its Blockchain project for the Art Market.

Discover the Alchemy and the universe of Artprice, which headquarters are the famous Museum of Contemporary Art, the Abode of Chaos

News Artmarket:

The 2015 Art Market Report contains the famous Artprice ranking of the world’s 500 most sought-after artists, the top 100 auction results, market breakdowns by country and by city, by period and by medium, Artprice indices and 21 chapters that provide an uncompromising analysis of the Art Market. It is available free of charge in PDF format at

The Contemporary Arts Museum The Abode of Chaos on Facebook:

Contact : Josette Mey : e-mail :


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