Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's chairman of Asian Art, Europe and Americas, fields bids in Hong Kong in April. (Photo/China Daily)
Wealthy investors swoop in to bid at London's prestigious auction houses
Demand for Chinese works of art is booming, with some antiques fetching millions of pounds at the fall of an auctioneer's gavel.
During the past decade, collectors from the Chinese mainland have snapped up works of art from Western auction houses, including imperial porcelain, bronzes and paintings.
The trend started in the early to mid-2000s, according to British auctioneers, with buyers previously coming mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 1970s and 80s.
The rapid development of mainland auction houses, including China Guardian Auctions and Ploy Auction House, has been seen as a response to how the market is developing in the world's second-largest economy.
The Chinese art market has remained robust, sustained by new collectors from the mainland, as the country's economy booms and its ranks of millionaires grow.
Mainland collectors see Chinese antiques as a durable investment, with some aiming to return items to China.