(art and antiquities)
Auctions, no longer rejected as capitalist, were reintroduced in China in the early 1990s. In May 1991, China’s National Cultural Conference decided that auction markets of artworks might be established in China in an effort to curb illicit trade and regularize the market, and the first auction of artworks took place in Xi’an on 8 September 1992.
The establishment of fine art and antiquities auction companies in major Chinese cities followed shortly thereafter. In Beijing, China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd., the first state-level professional auction company in China, obtained approval to operate in 1993, and since then has held spring and autumn auctions that reportedly sold more than 10,000 pieces of antiques and jewellery, with total earnings of about 700 million yuan (US$84.34 million) by the year 2000. Guardian’s president is Ms Wang Yannan, daughter of former Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang.
Today, the four major auction companies in Beijing are China Guardian, Sungari, Huachen and Hanhai. Hanhai, established shortly after Guardian, is closely linked to the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau, and initially obtained most of its items from PRC state-run antiquities stores. Rongbaozhai, one of Beijing’s most famous Chinese traditional painting restorers, collectors and mounters, also runs a Beijing-based fine arts auction company.
In Shanghai, Duo Yun Xuan Art Auctioneers, founded in 1992, remains the most well known, and belongs to the 100-year-old Duo Yun Xuan Company located on Nanjing Dong Lu, which also runs a traditional Chinese art gallery and a store for art supplies. In Duo Yun Xuan’s first years of auctioneering, most of the items on the block came from their own in-house collection, and generated intense local interest. Three of the more active Shanghai auction companies are Guotai Art Auction, Shanghai International Commodity Auction and Shanghai New Century Auction, all of which have been operating since the early to mid 1990s. Auction companies have also been established in many of China’s major cities. Items typically on auction include Chinese ancient and modern paintings and calligraphy, porcelain items, ancient furniture, Chinese oil paintings and sculpture, rare books, folk art, jewellery, stamps and coins. Since the late 1990s, auctions have also regularly included works of contemporary art, often contributing to the rapid increase in the market value of such productions.
Dewar, Susan (1994). ‘Report from Beijing’, Orientations 25: 49.
Zhou, Lin (1998). Chinalaw Web—Art Law in China, available at (last modified 25 June 1998).
Auction house websites
Duo Yun Xuan Art Auction: Guardian:; on-line auctions portal:
Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co., Ltd:
Shanghai New Century Auction Co., Ltd:

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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