UK Art Auctioneers Use Web to Infiltrate Mainland China –

Chris Ewbank with Ming vase 241x300 UK Art Auctioneers Use Web to Infiltrate Mainland China   artmarketblog.comConsidering how long it took major auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s to develop a presence the in mainland China, it is no surprise that it took a group of 19 of the UK’s leading regional auction houses to make the same inroads. Those 19 entrepreneurial auctioneers joined forces in 2012 to form the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (AAA) as means of building “relationships with Chinese buyers with a view to giving them easy access to their market for Western art and antiques.”

The AAA was initiated by Chris Ewbank, Principal of Surrey-based Ewbank Auctioneers, following a trade mission trip to China in 2012 with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) of which Mr Ewbank is a Fellow. The most significant achievement of the AAA is an alliance with the EpaiLive, China’s only live auction website. EpaiLive was founded in 2011 by Beijing-based Oxford graduate Dr QiQi Jiang with support from the Chinese government. According to Ewbank, “Making our sale catalogues available to them in their own language and bidding through epaiLive, which has 100,000 registered members, we believe makes our sales much more attractive to them – to the obvious advantage of our sellers.”

As part of their alliance with the EpaiLive, the AAA claim to have made art market history by helping to mount the first ever auction of Western antiques in a Chinese free port on April 21 2013. This monumental event was held in conjunction with and HuaChen auctions and consisted of 350 lots of furniture, silver, paintings, prints and works of art sourced from all over the UK and raised more nearly £1 million. The catalogue included works by Damien Hirst, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Zhang Xiaogang, Sir Terry Frost RA, Anish Kapoor, Blek le Rat, Wendy A-Z, and Andy Warhol.

Unfortunately nearly all of the modern and contemporary works of art failed to sell with the exception of some lower priced prints by the likes of Dali, Picasso, and Miro. But EpaiLive and AAA have reason to be optimistic about the future considering that a recent report by Hiscox revealed that Asian collectors are more likely to spend more when purchasing works of art online. According to Hiscox, 38% of Asian collector would be happy to spend £50,000 or more on a single artwork online (most likely at auction), compared to 20% of Americans and 15% of Europeans.

Watch the EpaiLive brand video below.

epaiLive Brand Film from Bochen Zhang on Vimeo.

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog ( which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

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