Chinese painter’s work sells for record high amid sluggish sales in art market

Pan Tianshou painting goes under the hammer for 279 million yuan at auction in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 May, 2015, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 8:42am

A painting by a modern Chinese painter has fetched a record price for his work, despite sluggish sales in China’s art market.

The picture, Eagle, Rock and Flora, by Pan Tianshou was sold for 279 million yuan (HK$354 million) by the auction house China Guardian at a sale on Sunday.

The picture of an eagle standing on a flower-covered rock was previously auctioned in 2005 for 11.7 million yuan.

The name of the buyer was not released and the painting went under the hammer after an hour of bidding, The Beijing News reported.

Pan died in 1971 and was well known for his traditional Chinese painting style.

Zhao Xu, executive director of auctioneers Poly Auction, said art sales were sluggish in China, but pieces by well-known artists were able to buck the trend if buyers particularly loved their work.

“Many business owners in sectors such as energy and real estate are short of cash, and some are putting their money in the bullish stock market, so generally art sales are not good as before,” he said.

China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest art market in 2011, according the annual report of the European Fine Art Foundation.

It has since slipped back to second place, partly due to the country’s slowing economy and the government crackdown on corruption and extravagant spending by officials.

China Guardian has said it hopes to boost sales by offering more Western masterpieces to meet the growing demand for foreign art from Chinese collectors.

The London-based auction house Bonhams also plans to sell Western art in Hong Kong and Beijing.