China has catapulted to the world's largest art auction market, ahead of the U.S. and U.K., with an estimated $8.3 billion in sales, according to Artprice.com. But are mainland buyers slow to pay sellers, or paying at all for their bids?
Newsweek takes a look at the rise of the Chinese mainland collector, and how and why their payments may be missing for star auction lots such as the 18th century imperial vase sold in Britain last November for a record $83 million.
Among the memorable recent cases of non-payment came during the immense Yves Saint Laurent estate sale held by Christie's in 2009. Chinese dealer Cai Mingchao repatriated two sculptures stolen by foreign soldiers from Beijing's Summer Palace -- 18th c. zodiac animal heads -- for $19 million, but refused to pay for them on patriotic grounds.