On April 11, over 200 attendees from China and around the world gathered for the 2014 International Auctioneer Forum in Beijing, hosted by China’s largest online live auction platform, EpaiLive.com. Titled “Integration and Innovation,” the event specifically spotlighted opportunities in the Chinese market to develop a healthy and enthusiastic collecting audience across a wider range of collecting genre.
Amelia Jeffers, President of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers (headquartered in Central Ohio), was one of three U.S. auctioneers invited to speak at the event. “It was fascinating to interact with our counterparts from Europe and Asia on hot topics in the business,” said Jeffers. “At the end of the day, whether we are calling bids in Beijing, Paris or Columbus, Ohio, the business is the same. In 2014, the word is incredibly small - and it is exciting to engage so easily with an international audience.” Members of the group from America and Europe had the chance to attend an auction the day following the forum, at HanHai Auction in Beijing. “It was a much more formal affair,” continued Jeffers, “the auctioneer was wearing a tuxedo. The room was full and the energy was palpable. You didn’t need to speak Chinese to understand what was happening!”
Many Chinese government officials and leaders in the auction world at the forum spoke to the importance of exposing and educating Chinese bidders to western art and antiques. Dr. Jiang Qiqi, CEO of Epailive, warned against the danger of relying to heavily on bidders’ interest in limited numbers Chinese cultural artifacts. “Qiqi is right,” Jeffers commented, “authentic, high quality Chinese artifacts are becoming harder to find. What happens when the supply in the U.S. and Europe dries up? Chinese bidders have disposable income, and we need them buying more than just their own cultural items.”
The second predominant theme of the forum was related to strengthening the second tier auction market. “The duopoly model does not meet the needs of the greater population of collectors,” Jeffers offered. “China is looking to the U.S. to understand how to help their second tier auction companies grow their businesses. Over and over we heard from the Chinese attendees that they want more than Sotheby’s and Christie’s. They want choice, and they want a personal relationship with their auction companies.”
“Garth’s has had a solid presence with Chinese collectors since the beginning, but the possibilities for developing this market utilizing the latest technology and long-lasting relationships we have been able to build is beyond exciting,” explains Jeffers, referring to a highlight of the Forum: the announcement of a new strategic partnership between CEO Rob Weisberg’s Boston-based Invaluable and EpaiLive, Asia’s leading online auction platform for antiques and art. The exclusive new alliance brings together the two largest markets for art and auctions in the world and allows both companies to cross-market their auctions between their respective platforms, providing Invaluable auction houses with unprecedented access to Chinese auction bidders, while providing North American bidders access to merchandise available through Chinese auction houses. The alliance will help streamline payment and logistics, as EpaiLive uses a secure escrow payment system to guarantee all payments from Chinese buyers, and facilitates the transactions from their buyers direct to auctioneers.
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About Garth's Auctioneers and Appraisers
Garth’s Auctions Inc. is Ohio’s oldest premier auction house, specializing in furniture, fine art, folk art, decorative accessories such as silver, sculpture, American Indian collections, textiles, toys, and more, as well as real estate. With over two dozen auctions a year and six certified appraisers – more than any other firm in the Midwest – Garth’s promotes single pieces as well as lifetime collections for consignment at auction. Choose Garth's for dependable. honest. results.