China’s EpaiLive on Selling Western Art and Antiques Online (Part-1) – artmarketblog.com

epailive1 Chinas EpaiLive on Selling Western Art and Antiques Online (Part 1)   artmarketblog.comIn 2012 a group of UK art and antique auctioneers joined forces to launch the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (AAA) as a means of building “relationships with Chinese buyers with a view to giving them easy access to their market for Western art and antiques.”

One of the most significant achievements of the AAA to date is an alliance with 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.

To find out more about EpaiLive and the AAA partnership, the Art Market Blog got in touch with the Director of International Sales at EpaiLive, Katherine Stevens, and asked her a few question. In part one of this two-part interview, Stevens explains the reasoning behind the development of the alliance with the AAA and reveals some of the trends that have emerged since the launch of the partnership.

What was the primary influence for the development of EpaiLive and the alliance with AAA?

As a relatively new industry in China, the Chinese auction market is in need of regulation. The UK market has a long history of established industry guidelines and traditions – by exporting some of these aspects of the UK market to China, the Association of Accredited Auctioneers can help the Chinese to broaden the view of art and auctions, and promote the development of the Chinese market. Chinese buyers are eager to buy online but they want to know that the items they are purchasing are verified by experts from reputable auction houses.

EpaiLive’s alliance with AAA has provided Chinese buyers with a trusted avenue for the purchase of high-end antiques and artworks – by purchasing items from AAA auction houses, our members can buy more types of art works, not only Chinese art, but also western antiques, furniture, silver, etc

For AAA, the alliance with EpaiLive provides them with a platform directly into the heart of the Chinese collecting community – without use of our platform services (including catalogue listing, live bidding, payment security and logistics solutions) it would not be feasible for any AAA members to be able to successfully and securely enter the Chinese market.

How have Chinese buyers reacted to the site so far?

In the two years after launching in April 2011, the site has gained many new members. The number of people registered as buyers is now over 100,000.

Moreover, the site has also gained the trust of the buyers. One lot was purchased for 4,900,000 RMB, and bids of up to 6,700,000 RMB were registered for a figure of Buddha in Sotheby’s Paris.

Our members often look for their favourite lots by checking through online catalogues and watching live broadcasts of auctions. After browsing the sales listed on EpaiLive.com, they will often end up bidding and participating in the auctions.

What objects being sold by British auctioneers are proving most popular with Chinese buyers?

Asian Art (especially Chinese art) remains our most popular category, but Western antiques and artworks are proving ever more popular, e.g.:

o             Silver

o             Jewellery

o             Watches

o             Clocks – often French-made, highly decorative and gilded

o             Works of Art/Decorative items – including bronze sculptures, gilded mirrors etc

o             Furniture – again decorative pieces are most popular

Are most of the Chinese buyers using EpaiLive private buyers or dealers?

We work with a combination of different types of buyers – ranging from top dealers and collectors in China to interior designers, VIP banking representatives, middle-high income home owners etc.

 What have been the highlights of the sales conducted by the British auction houses to date?

-              We helped to promote the cooperation between AAA and a Chinese auction house, Huachen Auctions, in April this year. We organised China’s first ever free port auction of western artworks in Xiamen, China.

-              Western furniture has grown in popularity in China in recent years. A pair of Louis XVI-style gilt-bronze and amboynas centre tables was sold at RMB 2million during the April auction. They were made by Linke c. 1910.

-              Silverware is also popular with Chinese buyers. More than half of the silver on sale at Xiamen sold. A three-piece tea service by James Deakin & Sons sold RMB 35, 000.

What trends have you identified in the market since the site launched?

More and more people have come to realize that the new trade model is both convenient and safe. Purchases of items from international auction houses are increasing; online sales in the domestic auction market in China are also growing at the same time.

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) 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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