China tops UK in art market table
The UK has been overtaken by China as one of the world's key art markets, a new report has found.
New figures suggest the UK's share of the global market has dropped by 5% since 2006 - part of a general European slump - allowing China to become the world number two.
UK dealers said the study showed their sales were being handicapped by a "resale levy" and they called for plans to extend the period of the charge to be dropped to avoid further "damage" to the industry.
Figures published by the European Fine Art Foundation place China as the world's second largest art market after the United States, with the UK third.
It is the first time China - which claims 23% of the market - has overtaken the UK (at 22%).
The British Art Market Federation - which represents many UK dealer bodies - said the figures were "alarming reading".
It claims the Artists' Resale Levy is a significant factor in the declining market share for contemporary art.
The levy - introduced under an EU directive - applies to sales of work by living artists entitling them to a percentage of prices. It means they will continue to profit if their work rises in value.
BAMF chairman Anthony Browne said: "This study makes alarming reading for us. The art market has been a British success story for many decades, but it is highly mobile and competition from outside Europe is very strong."
The BAMF said plans to extend the levy in the UK next year to 70 years after the artists' death, to bring it into line with the rest of Europe, should be resisted. "A huge extension of the resale levy when our position is already under pressure from global competitors makes no sense," said Mr Browne.