Cui Ruzhuo, the Beijing-born ink painter has toppled last year’s most expensive artist, oil painter Fan Zeng, from the top of the Hurun Art List 2015. His sales at auction reached $77 million, or £51 million in 2014, with ‘Landscape in Snow’ (2006) fetching $23.7 million, or £15.8 million at a Poly Auction sale in April. The annual “rich list” of 100 most expensive Chinese artists is based on sales of works at public auctions in during the previous year, and is compiled by publishing company Hurun Report in association with Artron.
Cui Ruzhuo, Zeng Fanzhi, and Fan Zeng are the best-selling contemporary Chinese artists according to the List, released on March 18 in Beijing. In the same auction event, Cui’s ‘Snowy Mountain’ (2012) went missing after the hammer went down on it for $3.7 million, £2.4 million. The work was later discovered after being accidentally thrown in the bin by cleaners at the Hong Kong auction venue.
The list shows that Zeng’s sales fell by 42 percent to $48 million, or £32.2 million and Fan Zeng reach $44 million, or £29.5 million. However, the Hurun report says total sales of Chinese contemporary artists at auction actually fell by 7 percent to $1.1 billion, or £737 million. Founder of Hurun, Rupert Hoogewerf, stated it is a reflection of the double whammy of a government crackdown on corruption and ostentatious spending, as well as the maturing tastes of Chinese collectors who are showing an interest beyond the obvious big-ticket works.
Traditional Chinese ink artists are also on the rise. This year’s list of 100 artists includes 74 ink artists, five more than last year and 17 more than three years ago. China has become the largest art auction market in the world, making up 37.2% of the world’s art auction sales volume, followed by the US with 32.1% and UK with 18.9%, according to a report released by Artron and Artprice.