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China Daily Global / 2020-05 / 22 / Page015

City's art auctions go virtual

By ZHANG KUN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-22 00:00

Shanghai's art-trading companies have shifted most of their business online to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the municipal administration of cultural relics, 86 of the 100 approved auctions of cultural relics this year are set to take place online. These 100 auctions will feature 20,137 pieces of artwork.

In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the city's administration of cultural relics has encouraged Shanghai's art-trading companies to go digital. The administration has simplified the procedures for applicants of online auction events and encouraged companies to take advantage of existing electronic trading platforms to display and sell their artworks and antiques.

Leading art-trading companies in Shanghai, such as Jinghua, Jiahe and Duoyunxuan, have hosted online auctions this year and achieved considerable success. An auction event featuring representative artists' works of Shanghai through the 20th century by Jiahe, for example, grossed 9.46 million yuan ($1.33 million). Three paintings by master artists Wu Changshuo, Liu Haisu and Lu Yanshao were each sold at more than 1 million yuan.

Online art trading has not developed as quickly as other sectors of commerce in China, according to the annual report on e-commerce in China released by the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2018, e-commerce in China achieved a total transaction volume of 32.6 trillion yuan, about 35 percent of the gross national product. That same year, China's art auctions grossed 24.6 billion yuan, but online auctions accounted for only 3.36 percent.

According to Shanghai Observer, a local news portal, although the strong development of online art auctions would largely reduce the cost of operations, new risks will also emerge, such as the difficulty of authenticating artworks, unstable platforms and unsecured transactions.

The municipal administration of cultural relics says it will address these issues by strengthening the legislation of online auctions and coordinating with industry associates to build a mechanism to support the healthy development of online art auctions.


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