The world auction market’s top earner in recent years must yield to Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), according to a report from French research company Artprice.
Zhang generated $506.7 million in auction revenue in 2011. Close behind was compatriot Qi Baishi (1864-1957) with $445.1 million. They lead a group of more than 450,000 artists tracked by Artprice. Picasso ranked fourth at $311.6 million.
“When you couple China’s abundance of money and its rich history of collecting in all the categories of art, it’s not a surprise,” said Larry Warsh, a New York-based collector.
The change reflects China’s growing strength in the global art market. Of the approximately $11 billion total world revenue for fine art last year,China's share was 39 percent, up from 33 percent the year before, Artprice said. The U.S. was No. 2 with 25 percent.
Andy Warhol came in third among artists in the Artprice report, with $324.8 million. The fifth slot was occupied by yet another Chinese name, Xu Beihong (1895-1953), who tallied $212.9 million.
My guess is that there's a lot of people dumping their ill gotten gains into art as a hedge against the leadership succession process. But anyway, disturbances in the force.