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Chinese take the art market by storm
Date:2010/5/24      View:1423
Chinese mainland's billionaire art buyers, who are taking the international market by storm this year, could be about to make their next move in Hong Kong this week.

The art world is at fever pitch after an anonymous telephone bidder, now believed to be Chinese, paid a world record $106.4 million for a work by Pablo Picasso at a Christie's sale in New York earlier this month.

The purchase of the 1932 portrait of his blonde mistress called "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" was one of a whole series of art auction scalps by mainland Chinese buyers this year.

These collectors, many of them newly rich entrepreneurs, are transforming the fortunes of the art market, which last year saw auction art prices fall globally by 30 per cent, according to the Mei Moses Fine Art Index, following the onset of the economic crisis.

The world's focus this week will be on the The Hong Kong International Art Fair, where a number of high profile works, including a $12 million Andy Warhol and a Picasso, which could easily exceed that amount, are up for sale.

At the same time Christie's will again be hoping to lure a major Chinese buyer when it exhibits another painting by Picasso this week, also in Hong Kong.

"The Absinthe Drinker" - a 1903 work by the great Spanish artist - has a guide price of between 300 and 400 million yuan and is being paraded before going up for sale in London next month.

Ken Yeh, chairman of Christie's Asia in Hong Kong, said China's billionaire art buyers are creating something of an electric atmosphere in the art world.

"I think the potential for Western art in China is huge, just massive. There have been a very few Chinese people buying impressionist modern paintings since 2004 and 2005 but suddenly, since last year, there has been almost a surge," he said.
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