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Chinese checkmate: Picasso toppled as top-selling artist

Published time: January 13, 2012 14:05
Edited time: January 13, 2012 18:05
Chang Dai-Chien

Chang Dai-Chien

Not only has China now outstripped the rest of the world in manufacture, but Chinese art has also jostled its Western counterpart: Chinese painters have ousted long-standing favorite Picasso as the top earner on the world auction market.

A report from the French research company Artprice shows sales of the artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) raked in a record $500 million last year.
Chinese artists also took the 2nd and 3rd spots on the list, with Picasso now trailing in 4th.
The Spanish artist had held onto the top spot from 1997, only sliding a notch in 2007, when Andy Warhol’s creations knocked him into 2nd place.
Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is still the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, however, going for $106.5 million in 2010.

The shift reflects changes on the global art market, where China now holds 39 per cent of the $11-billion revenue – up from last year’s 33 per cent.

Chinese artists aren’t as well-known globally as Picasso or Warhol, but economists at Artprice say Chinese buyers are No.1 at auctions and tend to buy their own painters, expressing respect and appreciation for their own heritage, rather than for popular western ideals.