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Taiwan looks for ways to give its art market a boost

2013-07-31 11:54:14

( By Xu Xinlei


Taiwan is expecting to set up an auction house association by the end of the year, and is considering a law on the sale of antiques sometime this year to try to help its faltering art market, China Culture News reported on July 29.

Taiwan’s art market used to draw a great deal of interest from international auctioneers, especially after Sotheby and Christie's opened their first Asia branch there, in the 1990s. But, those good old days didn’t last long, because of problems with authentication, taxations, and legal restrictions, and the local market went into decline in the early 2000s. Two big companies abandoned Taiwan and shifted their attention to a rising market- the mainland.

The Taiwan art market’s growth closely tied to the number of auction houses -- before 2006 there were three, now the count is 10 and rising, thanks to the market boom on the mainland and skyrocketing prices there, as well as the growing clout of the mainland buyers globally. These have in turn given Taiwan’s auction business a shot in the arm, according to Lu Jiemin, a veteran art consultant.

Hence, the proposed association, which is expected to coordinate efforts of local companies, and more important, make it possible to have exchanges and cooperation with mainland counterparts.

Zhang Yongpeng, president of the Taiwan Hans Auction House, puts it this way, “One look at the market across the Straits and you know that the growth is substantial on the mainland, while Taiwan was more passive and less open to the mainland. But with cross-Straits exchanges multiplying, Taiwan displays a better preservation of Chinese culture and is a rich source of collections. Our time has finally come.”

That does not mean that there are not problems still lingering as the two sides increase contacts. For example, around 400 buyers were invited to the Taiwan Fine Art and Antiques Fair 2013, this past April, but only 100 appeared. The remainder? Well, they were stuck in the bureaucratic nightmare of getting permission to enter the island.