Chinese Art: Tricks Of The Trade
Many saw this collapse coming. They should have seen the same thing coming in Chinese real estate and stocks (See “Shanghaied“), because each market exhibited the classic features of a speculative bubble: hype, scams and insider dealing, all preying on investors’ hopes that they could buy high and sell higher.
In the contemporary art market, as Forbes detailed a year ago, China’s pay-for-play culture was a perfect match for the self-dealing ethos of the art world. Top Chinese artists were mass-producing paintings in almost assembly-line fashion, selling them directly out of their studios in unknown quantities for up to hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. Auction houses were working with lesser-known artists, galleries and dealers to bid up their works and set a good public price for private sales.
Artists routinely paid critics for praise and museums for exhibitions to build up their brands. Want to get prime show space at a top national museum? Artistic merit is nice, but money talks. Want the cover of an art magazine, or a lengthy article inside? That is all for sale–though now presumably at a deep discount.
Yet Chinese art is still selling, according to this report.