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September 5, 2012

NYT: Art market slowed in first half 2012, especially in Asia

By Spear's

Investors in fine art are probably happy that the first half of 2012 is over: It has been a disappointing period, especially in Asia

Investors in fine art are probably happy that the first half of 2012 is over: It has been a disappointing period, especially in Asia.

But investors and dealers are hopeful that the rest of the year will see a rebound, both in supply of fine art at auction and in the prices paid, if the world economic picture becomes clearer.

After results in 2011 confirmed the Chinese art auction market as the largest in the world, total auction sales for all categories this spring from the “Big Four” auction houses in Asia — Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Christie’s Hong Kong, China Guardian, and Beijing Poly international Auction Co. — were $1.5 billion, a 32 percent decline from the autumn auction season of 2011, according to estimates by ArtTactic, a market research firm.

Anders Petterson, managing director of ArtTactic, said he believed the recent cooling in Asia reflected a decline in speculative buying, as “short-term investors realize their ability to quickly flip works at a profit is no longer viable.”

Sales of Asian art in Hong Kong, which had expanded drastically in 2011, fell significantly in the first half of the year at a time when they were rising in Europe and New York, prompting commentators to wonder whether the art bubble in China had finally been pricked. 

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