China's $13 Billion Art Fraud Funds Chinese Army
Art Fraud Funds Chinese Army, are surprised? If you pay attention either to China or the art market, you’ve probably heard the story: China last year became – according to art industry experts – the world’s largest market for art and antiques, surpassing the USA.
Well, here’s a shocker: it isn’t. Not even close.
|Imperial Chinese Painting|
Of course, you probably suspected as much: but the reasons are only now becoming clear. Exclusive interviews over the past several weeks with Chinese art dealers, auction house officials and others reveal a level of corruption significant even by Chinese standards, and more, the potential global dangers of an art market now at unprecedented heights – and growing. In fact, all of these shenanigans result in China's $13 Billion Art Fraud Funds Chinese Army much more than anyone ever imagined.
I first had a whiff of the real story in March, when art market expert Clare McAndrew, speaking at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, mentioned that many of the major purchases at Chinese auctions – which represent the vast bulk of China’s art market activity – were going unpaid. It is, after all, one thing to announce a multi-million dollar sale; it is entirely another actually to make it. And if buyers aren’t paying, China isn’t number one, after all.
|Diamond bracelet, perfect for the newly rich in China, or a "Gift".|
But defaults on purchases can happen anywhere, even at Sotheby’s or Christie’s auctions in London and New York, historically the two centers for art market activity, and the largest auction markets internationally. What makes China different?
The answer, according to those I’ve talked to, revolves chiefly around China’s largest auction house, Poly Auctions, based in Beijing. While Chinese collectors are well aware, most Westerners do not know that government-owned Poly is part of a larger organization that also manufactures weaponry – or rather, as they describe it on their web site: