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Asian art market: pros, cons and how you can benefit from it

June 2012


London Blue Girl by Asian artist Attasit Pokpong (Thailand)
London Blue Girl
by Asian artist Attasit Pokpong (Thailand)

Asian art market: what are the pros and cons?

There is absolutely no denying the rapid rate of growth in the art market in Asia. It is a phenomenon that has its own momentum and no one predicting gloom and doom – there is no sign of the growth abating.

This growth, as I mentioned previously, is as much internally as externally driven, with as many, if not more buyers, buying art from their own country or region.

The latest growth area has been Southeast Asian art sales in Hong Kong, the home of the Chinese contemporary art market. Why this has occurred has as much to do with the dynamic economic growth of Southeast Asia as a whole, as much as the insatiable demand for quality art from Asia to satisfy both local and foreign consumption.

This is the upside of what is happening.

The downside is that such growth spurs the market for fakes, as well as poorer quality works cashing in on the boom.

  • There have been a number of artists producing copies and fakes (bearing the signature of, but not executed by) of some artists we are all familiar with.

Most recently, I came across works so closely resembling Attasit Pokpong's paintings that I had to stop to take a second look. Good quality copies, but not fakes per se, as they were signed by the copying artist. They were not represented as Attasit's work or bore his signature.

Why this occurred with Attasit is probably due to a number of factors:

  • he is very popular
  • his works can now command considerable sums
  • "how to" photos were published online by a naive gallery owner wanting to show how Attasit created his works, but enabling anyone to copy the procedure.

  • Another occurence is the close copying of a successful artist's style by artists who have the technical ability, but not the creativity. Hopefully these artists will develop their style and be successful in their own right. This is not exclusively an Asian problem, but has occurred throughout time in every country.

  • Another negative factor in the Asian Art market is the non-payment of accounts by buyers at auction.

We experienced this a few years back when one of our works was "sold" by Sotheby's. A few days after the sale, we received a call from Sotheby's advising that the Chinese buyer had "disappeared". From what information we have at hand, this is becoming less of an isolated case and is a worrying trend.

Why do some "buyers" do this? One can only summise. It may be that:

  • they fell in love with a work and then after "buying" realised that they just couldn't afford it
  • they were entertaining business associates and wanted to display their prowess and bid for an artwork they had no intention of buying
  • some of these people have the intention of paying, but not just yet!

Whatever reason, they are not acceptable and cause problems for the auction houses as well as the consignors of the works. As Asia is a relatively new and uncharted market, these hiccups will work themselves out.

The fact is that Asia is a huge market with huge potential, and the forces driving it will not be stopped any time soon.

Take a look at our Asian art collection and contact me to discuss how you can benefit from this growing market.

Until next time,
Anthony Smith and the asart team

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Anthony Smith has been invited by Art Antiques Design to share his expertise about art in a series of articles:

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