Increasingly international in outlook, UK-based auctioneers Bonhams (www.bonhams.com) look to the future of the China market with confidence. Speaking today with chineseart.co.uk at their Beijing HQ in the city’s exclusive Chang An Club, which houses many top businesses like the Porsche motor company, Bonhams’ China representative, Ms Yu Hongyu, said, “The boom here is far from over. The market may have slowed a little but the economy still allows new people to get into the market. People are still getting rich. That includes many young people who are making their money both online and offline.”
Paul Harris pictured with Ms Yu Hongyu, Bonhams’ China representative, today at Beijing’s Chang An Club. Picture Sulee Harris
Yu Hongyu set up Bonhams’ office in China one and a half years ago. It is not the company’s intention to set up as auctioneers in China itself. “There is a well established network of small local auction houses here, as well as Sotheby’s and Christie’s who are running occasional auctions.”
Instead, she sees it as her role to identify the growing number of Chinese collectors and bring to their attention the Bonhams’ sales which might be of interest to them. Inevitably, that means the company’s important Hong Kong sales and, later this month, she is organising previews in both Shanghai and Beijing of the company’s upcoming Hong Kong May auctions, which range from Fine and Rare Wines, Cognac and Single Malt Whiskies to Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy, as well as Classical, Modern and Contemporary Ink.
Although the Chinese economy has experienced a slowdown, Yu Hongyu says there is always a market in China for “good pieces”. There is a lot of new money about in China. “The acquisition of a good piece of art is a way of saying there is more to life than simply making money’.”
In the Chinese lexicon it all about face. A person who appreciates culture and art demonstrates that he or she is a person of real substance far beyond the narrow constructs of an ability to make money.