Jul 28, 2012

Alledged Undervaluing of Contemporary Chinese Art Imported to China

On July 16, 2012, the NY Times reported that a German art handler and a Chinese associate were detained on charges that they undervalued imported art to avoid customs duties. The article states that "[t]he detentions have put a spotlight on the mercurial Chinese legal system and raised questions among collectors and industry executives about the potential pitfalls of China’s fast-growing art and antiques market, which last year surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest, according to the European Fine Art Foundation. The crackdown, industry professionals have warned, could dissuade Chinese collectors from bringing home art purchased abroad." The article then adds that "legal experts said that art handling firms simply work with the values provided by their clients, but that Chinese law is murky on whether individuals employed by shipping companies can be held liable for undervaluing a work...in China imported art is often levied with duties that can reach 35 percent of an object’s value. Many industry veterans complain of a customs process that is notoriously onerous....and "[a] number of art professionals, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of drawing unwanted attention from the authorities, have suggested that the government may simply be trying to remove the competition as it prepares to enter the lucrative art-handling business. Read the full article HERE.

Jul 22, 2012

Sotheby's Sues Chinese Bidder for $3.5 million Nonpayment

On July 17, 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported Sotheby's has had to resort to attempting to publicly shame a mainland Chinese buyer who failed to pay for 20 lots he bought at their April 2012 Hong Kong sale of Chinese paintings. Here's hoping they are successful.

Jul 16, 2012


Provenance (the history of past ownership) has great importance when assessing value of ancient Chinese arts. That is because dealers and auction house are increasingly unwilling to accept objects for sale and museums are not accepting them as gifts if acquisition history cannot be documented prior to 1970 (the year a United Nations convention on looted antiquities took effect). On July 12, 2012, the New York Times published a story on this situation: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/arts/design/antiquity-market-grapples-with-stricter-guidelines-for-gifts.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1