| LONDON, March 14
LONDON, March 14 Chinese spending on art and
antiques shrank by nearly a quarter in 2012, ending a streak of
spectacular growth that helped drive up global prices and made
China the biggest player in the market by 2011, a report said on
The study, commissioned by the European Fine Art Foundation
which organises The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), estimated
the worldwide art and antiques market contracted by seven
percent last year to 43 billion euros ($56 billion).
The study, compiled by academic Clare McAndrew, founder of
the consulting firm Arts Economics, estimated Chinese art sales
fell 24 percent to 10.6 billion euros in 2012.
Auction sales in China dropped an even steeper 30 percent,
pushing it into second place in the art market rankings with a
25 percent share behind the United States, which regained its
position as market leader with 33 percent.
Britain remained the world's third most important art market
at 23 percent, according to the study released to coincide with
this year's TEFAF which opens in Maastricht on March 15.
"The main reasons for the deceleration in (Chinese) growth
were both demand factors (including a slowdown in economic
growth and continuing liquidity constraints) and a reduced
amount of high quality, high priced works coming onto the
market," said the report.
"Many art funds and other speculative investors also reduced
their participation in the market during the year."
The study added that collectors were increasingly focusing
on works by so-called "blue chip" artists.
"Many art buyers are minimising risk by opting for the
best-known artists at the top end of the market with post-war
and contemporary art performing strongly," it said.
That helped boost auction sales of post-war and contemporary
art by five percent in 2012 to almost 4.5 billion euros and took
that sector's overall market share to 43 percent.
Modern art was the next biggest sector with auction sales of
3.2 billion euros, representing 30 percent of the fine art
auction market but a fall of 17 percent from its 2011 peak of
Private retail and dealer sales, as opposed to the auction
room, fell four percent to 22.2 billion euros, with the lower
end of the market recording the weakest performance.
Several art analysts have voiced concerns over what they say
is a growing divide between the top end of the market, where
ultra-wealthy buyers snap up rare treasures for staggering sums,
and mid- to lower-tier sales which have been more susceptible to
broader economic pressures.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)