The vision of a single global marketplace in art and antiques comes a step nearer with the launch of Barnebys Hong Kong – a move that opens up the Asian market to the world’s buyers and sellers
Barnebys – the world’s largest search engine for fine art and antiques – has launched in China. The move will see millions of Chinese buyers joining the online marketplace, helping boost sale prices and making it easier for Europeans to discover Asian art, design, antiques and collectibles.
Barnebys, which already offers access to some 1,500 auction houses and 500 art dealers, will add two key Hong Kong auction houses into the mix following the move.
It has also launched a new Chinese-language version of its auction site, and offers Chinese clients full access to its global art and antiques marketplace.
Pontus Silfverstolpe, Barnebys founder and head of content says: “The auction market is global and Barnebys intends to be a pioneer of new markets. So we believe that it is time to focus on China, as it is one of the world’s largest markets for art and antiques.
“Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important auction centres, and in the Far East there are many who see Hong Kong as the capital for auctions. It is not so far behind London and New York when it comes to selling diamonds as well as Picassos, Chateau Lafite wines and Vietnamese art, for example.”
The dramatic growth of China’s economy in recent decades has led to the country becoming the second biggest art market in the world – accounting for more than 30 per cent of global sales in 2015.
Those with an eye on the market will know that China’s new rich have been “buying back” some of the country’s most important cultural history at European auctions. More museums have opened in China between 2000 and 2014 than were opened in the previous two centuries.
Combined with a boom in contemporary art, China’s market remains on a high. China’s best-known billionaire art collector Liu Yiqian has purchased works by American pop-culture artist Jeff Koons alongside Tibetan tapestries and a 500-year-old Ming Dynasty porcelain cup.
Meanwhile China’s growing middle class has shown an appetite for picking up European goods with more modest price tags. In recent years, Barnebys have seen more and more Chinese-based bidders buying items such as Rolex watches, luxury handbags, chandeliers, antique silver and 18th-century European art. That’s great news for European sellers of those items keen to see them reach their full value.
Mr Silfverstolpe believes there is scope for huge numbers of this group to join the global online auction revolution: “Our experience of entry into other markets in Europe and the USA tells us that we can expect to have 20 to 25 million Chinese buyers and sellers within the first five years. It is time for Barnebys to feed the Chinese dragon with the world’s biggest collection of collated art, design, antiques and furniture,” he said.
The move will also make it easier for European customers to discover Asian art. Chinese works are now finding a foothold with Western audiences.
Young Asian artists are being brought into the spotlight across the contemporary art world’s capitals: London, New York and Paris. Paris’ Fondation Louis Vuitton has dedicated most of 2016 to its exhibition of new Chinese art, while London’s Marlborough Fine Art gallery recently dedicated an exhibition to works by Beijing-based artist Song Yige.
Christopher Barnekow, Barnebys founder and CEO, says: “Barnebys offers a fantastic opportunity as a mechanism of discovery. From top-notch high-end items from Europe, to Chinese antiquities and fine Danish designed furniture at a bargain price, this marketplace is accessible and transparent thanks to Barnebys.’’
The online auction aggregator sees the move into China as a stepping stone to its vision of a single global art and antiques market that anyone can access online.
The virtual “glocal” marketplace they hope to create will be transparent and accessible for buyers and sellers from anywhere in the world. That goal is now a step closer thanks to the opening of Barnebys Hong Kong.
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