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The asian art market paralysed by the epidemic due to the coronavirus

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The dealers were clamoring for the past several weeks, the decision has been announced Thursday, February 6 : the edition of Art Basel hong Kong, which was held from 19 to 21 march, was cancelled following the outbreak due to the coronavirus, while a 22nd case of infection has been identified in the former british colony. The director of the fair, Marc Spiegler, said that he had explored “all possible options” : “there are still three weeks, we were confident, after talking with collectors and dealers of asian, us he says, even as three exhibitors had cancelled their participation. The spread of the coronavirus has changed the situation. “

Carrie Lam, the chief executive of hong Kong, has today restricted the issuing of visas and reducing the number of flights from mainland China. By mail, the swiss company MCH Group, the owner of Art Basel, has proposed to the exhibitors to repay 75% of the cost of their stands, whereas, a month earlier, following the letter of twenty-two exhibitors also irritated that worried, the group had refused a 50% reduction in costs, deeming it ” their application financially unsustainable “.

In the aftermath, Art Central, the show off which was held in hong Kong on the same dates, has also been cancelled. For its part, Christie’s has chosen to delay by two months its two contemporary art sales and wine, scheduled in march and move in June its week of asian sales, which is usually held in march, in New York. “It is the right decision to take for sure the best market environment to our clients, both sellers and buyers,” said Francis Belin, president of Christie’s Asia. The situation is indeed very critical for all of the local galleries. “The chinese market was bad in 2019, which is more to hong Kong because of the protests, but this is nothing comparable with what we experience in this moment,” said Zheng Li, owner of the gallery Tang, based in Beijing, hong Kong and Bangkok.

In Beijing, the 798 district, where they are aggregated, most of the galleries are closed to the public. As with all businesses, the situation is so tense that the association of the chinese galleries is in the process of drafting a letter to the ministry of culture and the mayor of Beijing to claim the aid. “It will be necessary for the administration of the 798 to reduce rents or offers for at least two months of rent. Without that, the small galleries will not be able to keep, ” says the merchant, beijing Xin Dong Cheng. The exhibitions have all been postponed to dates to be specied. “New york artist Spencer Sweeney had to spend a month in China to produce the works of my exposure, indicates the merchant, beijing Hadrien de Montferrand. We had the show in a trade fair in Beijing later in the year. Everything seems to be compromise. “