Liu Yiqian: In Next Five Years, "More And More New Collectors" Will Enter Chinese Auction Market

    This week, the Shanghai-based billionaire financier and Chinese art "super-collector," Liu Yiqian shared his predictions for the country's art and auction markets with Beijing Business Daily.
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Lifestyle

    Liu And Wife, Wang Wei, To Open Dragon Art Museum Next Year#

    Businessman and art collector Liu Yiqian

    Jing Daily regularly keeps an eye on the Chinese art collector "power couple," Shanghai billionaire Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei, who have spent millions over the past several years building up one of China's largest collections of contemporary and traditional art, antiques, and "Red Classics." This week, Beijing Business Daily caught up with Liu Yiqian to ask him for a couple of predictions for the Chinese art market, which he shared with his trademark candor.

    From the interview (translation by Jing Daily team):

    Prediction 1: Fine Works of Chinese Contemporary Art Will Set New Benchmarks in Auction Market#

    Beijing Business Today (BBT): This spring a buyer paid 425 million yuan for a piece by the Chinese painter Qi Baishi that you previously owned, setting a new auction record. Many people are confident in the Chinese art market, but others think there are potential bubbles and risks. What do you make of this?#

    Liu Yiqian (LYQ)#

    : Economic bubbles and risk exist in any market. But in the art market, the price of good artwork will continue to soar. When I say "good artwork," I'm talking about works with fine workmanship that are hard to reproduce, or art masterpieces with great historical value, which also can't be reproduced. These are the most sought-after pieces in the art world.

    BBT: In recent years, the prices for modern art at auction have been impressive. In the next five years, what areas do you think we'll see prices rising?#


    : I am optimistic about Chinese contemporary art. I think contemporary art and traditional art will collide in coming years, and contemporary art in China will set new benchmarks.

    Prediction 2: Sooner or Later, Auction Houses Will Pay For Selling Fakes#

    Liu bought this piece by Qi Baishi for 425.5 million yuan at the China Guardian 2011 Spring Auctions

    Beijing Business Today (BBT): What do you predict in terms of China's collectors in the next few years?#


    : We'll see more and more new collectors enter the market. Over the past five years, there were only a few collectors involved with this market, and we were therefore quite familiar with buyers as well as sellers. But this situation has changed this year, as half of the buyers are even new to me.

    I guess I'll only know less than one-fifth of the players in this area in the next five years.

    BBT: With the continuous growth of the auction market, what kind of role do you think auction houses should play?#


    : I think auction houses should have a better sense of social responsibility rather than just seeing themselves as places of trade. Under the current "Auction Law" [in China], there are some provisions that conflict with consumers' interests, such as the fact that "auction houses do not guarantee authenticity." This kind of provision should be modified. I'll have legal recourse if I buy a fake product at a shopping mall, so why won't an auction house do the same?

    I've always believed that auction houses should be self-disciplined and offer better services in order to provide collectors and dealers with an assured and satisfactory environment. Otherwise, sooner or later auction houses will pay for haphazardly putting fakes on the market.

    On the other hand, in the current market, we can't trust anyone, due to the characteristics of the auction industry, so one needs to refer to experts to make sure about the authenticity of some pieces. But still, in most cases the people who you trust the most are the ones who'll lie to you.

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