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LOS ANGELES — Is China the undisputed king of the art market? That’s a question posed by Hyperallergic a few months ago, when we learned that the country makes up the highest number of auction results. A stunning 12.1% of art works sold in Asia sell for between $100,000 and $1,00,000 (as compared to 2.2% for the rest of the world).
Unfortunately, it looks like Chinese artists and gallerists may need to start entering those hefty figures into the world’s longest invoice. That’s according to one article in Taiwan’s China Post:
“My dad encountered an experience where he sold a piece of work upwards of US$5-10 million. It took the buyer almost half a year to pay the auction house,” [Hong Kong art collector Alan] Lo recalls, saying the anonymous buyer was most likely from mainland China. “With big-ticket items, it’s becoming more and more of a concern with mainland buyers.
The article includes interview with both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who maintain elaborate vetting measures to ensure collectors pay up.
Whether it’s factually correct or just a trumped up story, there’s no doubt that every artist has experience the truth of nonpayment. Almost everyone I know in the art world is owed something or has been swindled out of something, and they’ve either gotten wiser, more bitter or left the game entirely.
But there’s hope yet. Brooklyn artist Elli Bern Angellino is filling suit against the Saudi Royal Family, who allegedly owe him $12.6 million. The Artinfo report reveals a step by step process to going head to head against overseas collectors. It includes a simple tip like delivering a summons: “Have the US embassy in Riyadh send the summonses in an envelope that says ‘diplomatic note.’ Then they have to open it.”