On the verge of becoming an international institution, the recent Hong Kong International Art Fair, known as "ART HK," represents an exciting development in the state of the art world in China. This growth has critical, yet profoundly inspiring, implications upon the international art community. Since its humble beginnings in 2008, ART HK has shown rapid growth with over 260 galleries from over 38 countries participating in the recent fair. Momentum of ART HK's success and prominence was recently propelled by an announcement that MCH Swiss Exhibition, owners of Art Basel, the world's biggest contemporary art fair, have just signed an agreement with Asian Art Fairs, the owners of ART HK, to purchase a majority stake in ART HK, which went into effect on July 1, 2011. This tactical move, combined with rising auction revenue, favorable tax considerations, a newfound interest in art as an asset class, and interest based on national identity, cements China’s role in the global art market.
It was recently reported in Artprice.com, a French-based data service, that China ranks number one in fine art auction revenue, surpassing the U.S. Moreover, the contemporary Chinese auction market has grown from just below $1 million in 2002 to $167.4 million in 2010. Prominent auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s Hong Kong have seen sales turnover increase by 300% between 2009 and 2010. The total auction sales value (all categories) for both auction houses in Hong Kong rose by 122 percent, from US$658 million in 2009, to US$1.46 billion in 2010. Even mainland Chinese state-owned auction houses, such as Poly and Guardian, have seen their Chinese sales seasons grow from $397 million in 2009 to $2.2 billion in 2010. This year is also set to become a record year in light of the sale of the Ullen Collection at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2011.
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