Sotheby's new major Chinese shareholder may help boost its market share in China, where in recent years the auction house's rival Christie's has dominated, art advisers said. Taikang Life Insurance Co's taking of a 13.5 percent stake in the British auction house was major news in the art world at a time when many Chinese investors are diversifying into art and have made headlines for brand-name art purchases.
The owner of Taikang, tycoon Chen Dongsheng, is a prominent art collector and also the founder of China Guardian Auctions, the country's first auction houses specializing in Chinese artwork, which many in the art world see as a boon to Sotheby's ambitions in the country.
"It certainly gives Sotheby's a strategic advantage in mainland China to have its largest shareholder in the country, also considering that Taikang has requested a seat on the board, [it indicates] that Taikang will be actively involved in strategic decisions that Sotheby's will make both in China and internationally," said Annelien Bruins, COO and senior art adviser at Tang Art Advisory in New York.
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