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Art is in the eye of the beholder — and the buyer. As Dalya Alberge discovers in this issue’s cover story, scholars are helping collectors unearth lost Old Masters. But the art market faces rocky times ahead — Chinese collectors, in particular, are showing signs of hesitancy.
Uncertainty over the impact of China’s slowing economy colours conversations between wealth managers and their clients, writes Yuri Bender. The response? Wealthy Asian tycoons are looking further afield, beyond the frothy property markets of Hong Kong, fuelling real estate speculation from London to New York (and back again).
Disappearing tycoons, as our correspondent Christian Shepherd discovers, are not helping to assuage clients’ fears. Even clean pairs of hands, he writes, are not above scrutiny from the Chinese authorities.
The instability is having knock-on effects around the world. The country’s much-vaunted attempt to clamp down on excessive gift-giving is just one of the measures reverberating through the luxury markets. Fine wine has plummeted in value, as the Chinese shake off their taste for decent Bordeaux.
Auction prices for antique furniture have also fallen. A new style of living, Thomas Seal writes, brings with it a demand for a new type of furniture. The Chinese, suggests one expert, are not fans of Regency antiques: out with the mahogany, in with the designer sofas. Even in terms of armoires and tallboys, China leads the world.
Hugo Greenhalgh, Editor