Monday, February 01, 2016

Smuggling Chinese Antiques Out of China Likely to Grow

Smuggling Chinese Antiques
Imperial Chinese Court Fan, sold for $170,000,
Now what? 

Smuggling Chinese Antiques Might Be The Next Big Thing 

Smuggling Chinese antiques may soon become a problem in China, smuggling out I mean, not in.

Why would I say this? Pretty simple, "Market Forces". China's economy is in a tail spin, their GDP is contracting well below their annual target of 9% and is now down into the 6.4% range. By all indications the government is no longer able to play with their currency and trade numbers enough to offset the declines on paper and the bloom is now officially off the rose. With all of this in place demand for art will slip more than it has already.

For the last two decades the prices of Chinese antiques have been on steady rise driven by an apparently unquenchable thirst to acquire objects of China's past driven by the newest of the mainland's nouveau riche.

 For many dealers and collectors the last 20 years have been remarkably easy, buy something today and wait a year, then sell for a handsome profit. Now that it appears that what was once thought to be a "sky's the limit" market is heading for softer less robust times begs a few questions. Before going on, let's bear in mind taking Chinese antiques out of mainland China is and has been illegal for decades. (Now hold that thought for a moment.)

As China's economy pulls back followed by the inevitable drying up of available cash for antique purchases, some collectors will start selling a "few pieces". It always happens when economies slow down, it's how many of China's greatest treasures ended up in western museums to begin with. If things don't improve, more pieces will try and enter the market as additional owners become increasingly nervous. Soon, if not already, mainland auction results will slip further. Soon Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai dealers who were begging to buy inventory will be taking only consignments out of fear of tying up capital.

Pretty soon you'll have a massive concentration of fine Chinese art and antiques gathered from around the entire world and bought at the top of the market stuck in China and going down in value. With many owners seeking buyers inside a shrinking economy with equally shrinking demand, soon you have buyer's bidding downward like a "Dutch Auction"... In short, it's an economic trap.

As prices soften in China, more items in the west will find their way to auctions in order to get out of the market in exchange for hard cash, which will only exacerbate the situation further in China. Western sellers will soon be competing with those smuggling Chinese antiques for spots in auction houses in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris.

Other Art categories that have fallen apart in recent history

Do you think this can't happen? Remember the Japanese and Korean Art market's collapse? For those of you in the US, remember the American furniture and decorative art market of the 90's?? Where is it today? It collapsed completely. It quickly became a race to the bottom, where it's been now for nearly a decade. Japan's collapse has lasted 20 years and counting.

Collecting art and paying big prices is about confidence in the market. Confidence in Chinese art as an investment has been wobbling now for a while. Many are no doubt already looking for the exits.

If you think it cannot happen, talk to an Americana or Japanese art collector. (neither did they)
and Shanghai dealers who once would gladly buy anything offered become hesitant, perhaps only taking in inventory on consignment. It could get ugly.

China's economy will continue to pull back as production slows due to reduced global output demand and increased competition from less expensive labor markets. All of it will result in a serious dilemma for Chinese antiques collectors as well as a bit of a shock.

The Solution? Smuggling!! Smuggling Chinese antiques of course!

Smuggling Chinese antiques or anything for that matter has been done for centuries. Hundreds of years ago it was first was done by the Venetians into and out of the British Isles after the first duties were put in place. The Dodges of Venice actually put in their annual budget an amount specifically for the purpose. Over the centuries everything from weapons, to drugs, human beings to national secrets have been smuggled. Cocaine traffickers have gone so far as to build submarines in recent years.

My guess is Chinese collectors and dealers will be taking part in this age old tradition before long, if they haven't already. While selling outside of China may not result in the sky high prices of a few years ago, the price declines for the early birds will be reduced by what's left of global demand elsewhere with some mainland buyers still willing to jump into the fray. No doubt many in China despite the drawbacks, will prefer very much getting their best things out as soon as they can. Smuggling Chinese antiques out of China will be the result in order for this process to begin. Before you know it the big auction houses will be facing their own dilemma, how do they explain where these things are coming from?

While smuggling is a dirty word and smuggling Chinese antiques will not be for everyone with collections in China, it will be fine with many of them.

Can Anything Stop it?

Sure, if China can get a grip on it's markets very quickly and keep the confidence of the people which is already getting to be in short supply. Can Smuggling Chinese antiques be done? of course it can, take a look at all the middle eastern war antiquities loot turning up in the EU and even on eBay these days. There is always a way.

As for me, its fine, prices need to come down and it's long overdue.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ebay Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter

The BidAmount Weekly EBAY Magazine Newsletter Is Now Online

Ebay Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter
Large Ming Dynasty Longquan Celadon, sold on eBay
As many of you know for last few years we have been publishing through our other website  weekly EBAY Newsletter and Watchlist. 

It's been very well received by both buyer's and collectors of Chinese and asian Antiques and much appreciated by sellers on eBay. 

The original purpose was pretty simple. 

  • To present eBay users globally better choices of authentic Chinese and Asian antiques being sold there. 

Before doing the Newsletter we had been doing it informally for ourselves and friends for quite a while, but only letting them know with emails each week by sending out links. Anyway, a couple years ago, we started the BidAmount Asian Antiques Newsletter Watchlist for free to anyone wanting to receive it.  For us it's fun to do,

It is still free and goes out every Saturday night once the site is updated. 

For those of you who are new to us, welcome! 
Ming Yixing Inscribed Teapot
Ming Yixing Inscribed Teapot, sold on eBay

Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter, Has Grown

Over time, the Newsletter got too large and could no longer be eMailed very well. So we created a section on the BidAmount site devoted to it. 

We still send out a weekly notice with images,to let subscribers know it's been updated for the coming week. 
Bidamount Newsletter magazine online Chinese Art
Click Image for latest Asian Art Newsletter
The Weekly Newsletter email is linked directly back to the full newsletter now on the site.

New Features on the BidAmount Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter

Now that size is no longer a problem, we have added a wide range of new features, in addition to the 500 to 800 eBay items we find each week.
  • Featured Items for the week. Special things that caught our eye. 
  • A weekly blog about Chinese and Asian antiques.  
  • Price results area for the highlights and things of interest each week, 
  • News Feed that updates automatically about things happening in the Asian art world and Asian culture. 
  • Access to no longer available and upcoming catalogs of auctions at Christie's, Bonhams as well as exhibitions by major dealers and museums. 
  • Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter
    Yongzheng Mark and Period Dish, sold on ebay
  • Books you can buy that we've selected as essentials for collectors on Amazon. 
  • Direct access to our own preferred sellers and their current listings, some of whom are also featured in the newsletter each week. 
  • Direct access to our video library for examining and identifying authentic Chinese objects with real examples.

Click Here to See this week's  Asian Antiques Weekly Magazine Newsletter

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