It is widely known that the United Kingdom and United States comprise two of the world’s most prominent and prosperous art epicenters. However, according to recent reports, China surpassed both countries last year to become the largest art and antiques market. Forbes however casts doubt on these claims, instead suggesting that fraud and corruption riddle the Chinese market.
China’s largest auction house, Poly Auctions, which is part of a larger government-owned organization that also produces military weaponry, is said to frequently overlook underhanded practices. Industry experts contend that many of the purchases at Chinese auction houses have gone unpaid, even though the winning bids have been widely reported. In addition, many of the artworks aren’t even real—scholars are paid to produce evidence authenticating fake artworks. The forgeries are part of a system that uses art to leave a legitimate-looking paper trail for large bribes. Another trick is for the seller to buy back his own lot, with only a small commission to the auction house, thus establishing a false, inflated value for the work. Of course, the Chinese auction house denies these claims.