In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of May 21-25, 2012:
Set to take place one day after the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Auction on May 26, Christie’s Asian Contemporary Art day sale in Hong Kong will present an enticing spectrum of works from leading Chinese and other Asian artists like Fang Lijun, Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun and Yoshitomo Nara. Owing to a growing number of collectors from mainland China and rising interest from local Hong Kong bidders, prices for blue-chip Chinese artists should remain buoyant at the upcoming Christie’s auction series, but at the day sale, we expect a significant number of works to remain attainable for the new collector, who can’t hope to compete with established buyers for large-scale works by the likes of Zhang, Yue and Zeng Fanzhi that reliably sell for millions of dollars.
With these works becoming increasingly scarce as a record number of mainland Chinese buy art to diversify assets and combat unreliable property and stock holdings, bidding will likely be intense for particularly attractive or rare works, but good buys will definitely be there for the taking.
China’s luxury e-commerce market may still be young, but it’s anything but boring. Following record investment in 2011 and a raft of new entrants joining the market, 2012 has seen the earliest signs of an industry shakeout and announcements by the likes of Net-A-Porter and Neiman Marcus, as well as designers like Alexander Wang, that they’re ready to launch e-commerce options in China.
Considering the country’s overall online retail market hit US$121 billion in sales last year, according to Barclays Capital, a 66 percent increase over 2010, and China is expected to become the world’s largest luxury retail as well as luxury e-commerce market by 2015, it’s easy to see why global and home-grown companies continue to pile in.
The Beijing Craft Beer Festival will showcase the best in craft beer from Beijing and Shanghai breweries and some of the country’s growing ranks of homebrewers. As Carl Setzer, Beijing Craft Beer Festival co-organizer and brewmaster of Great Leap Brewing, told us, “The event itself is going to be held at a decommissioned electronics factory in the Dashilar area of Beijing’s Qianmen District. For the day we’ve brought in Boxing Cat Brewery, Strong Ale Works of Qingdao, our Bavarian friends from DK1308 and Fuerst Carl and Slow Boat Brewery of Beijing.”
In addition to dozens of unique hand-crafted beers, the event will feature food tents offering everything from tacos and pretzels to Thai fish cakes and desserts, as well as a bouncy castle for the kids. 75 percent of net ticket proceeds will be donated to the Beijing Homebrewer’s Society to help get Beijing’s first homebrewing store off the ground. (A good cause, if there ever was one.)
Launching a brand in China is an expensive proposition, and there is a voracious buyer base — the image of shark-chumming comes to mind. For any brand, the temptation to throw their own chum into the mix is often tempting. The sooner their investment pays off, in the form of sales, the better, right? Since the 1990s, major luxury brands have poured millions, perhaps billions, into China in an attempt to access the ever-demanding Sino-consumer. This is a culture where buyers wait in three-hour lines at the local Gucci store and young women save their annual salary for one Prada bag. With this kind of buying behavior, it’s normal for brands to focus on sales and getting as many products in as many hands as possible.
But are there risks to that strategy?
Amid recent developments like a drop in property prices, lower economic growth rates and a crackdown on art importers in the mainland China, the upcoming spring auctions in Hong Kong will test whether Chinese demand for high-priced art, jewelry and wine remains strong. Along with sales of blue-chip Chinese contemporary paintings, prints and photographs, the auction series includes wine, traditional Chinese art, watches, jewelry antiques, and over the next week Christie’s expects to raise as much as HK$2 billion (US$260 million). As Francois Curiel, Christie’s president of Asian operations, told BusinessWeek of Chinese interest in the upcoming auctions, “From the number of hotel bookings and reservations for our dinners from Chinese it seems to be business as usual.”