Shares in Art Works Offered in New Chinese Investment Market
    2011-01-26 16:47:58     Xinhua      Web Editor: Chu
A pilot art market opened Wednesday in north China's Tianjin city to allow small investors to buy shares in the ownership of art works previously traded only in auction houses by the super rich.
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A pilot art market opened Wednesday in north China's Tianjin city to allow small investors to buy shares in the ownership of art works previously traded only in auction houses by the super rich.

The market, operated by the government-backed Tianjin Cultural Artwork Exchange, is considered a financial innovation by the Tianjin municipal government.

China had no precedent, said Chen Zongsheng, deputy secretary of the municipal government.

Investors -- both individuals and institutes -- can trade shares in art work just as in the stock markets. Pieces up for public trading include paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, and handcrafts.

"It is good news for ordinary Chinese who have money to invest," Chen said. "In general, China has limited financial investment channels compared with developed countries."

Experts said the pilot program notably lowered the threshold of investment in China's booming art and antiques market, which is dominated by big players.

Beijing-based Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., a leading domestic auction house, saw turnover of fine art and antiques at 5.28 billion yuan (794.6 million U.S. dollars) at its 2010 autumn auction. Two items were sold at over 100 million yuan and 99 items over 10 million yuan.

Shares in two traditional Chinese paintings were offered for sale on the Tianjin market Wednesday: one valued at 6 million yuan and the other at 5 million yuan. Ownership was divided into 6 million shares for the first and 5 million for the other, said Wang Mingda, an official with the exchange.

"Investors are very enthusiastic and trading has been active since the market opened at 9 a.m.," Wang said.

According to the market's rules, an investor who buys up to 67 percent of an artwork can require the purchase of the remaining shares from other investors.

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