Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone is abuzz with activity as a spectacular array of art pieces, designed to be showcased at the upcoming 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), makes its way from the storage facilities. Among the star attractions is a significant sculpture by the globally acclaimed Pop art figure, Jeff Koons. Koons, known for his monumental contributions to the Pop art realm, once saw his masterpiece titled “Rabbit” from 1986 fetch a staggering $91 million at an auction, setting a record for the most pricey artwork sold by a living artist.
But Koons isn’t the only luminary whose work will grace the event. The initial shipment of art for CIIE also includes mesmerizing paintings from the talented Japanese artist Rokkaku Ayako. Delving deeper into the rich palette of the exhibition, visitors can expect nearly 70 other high-value artworks. These comprise masterpieces from the legendary Impressionist Claude Monet, Henri Matisse – a trailblazer of the French Fauvist movement, the contemporary genius from Japan, Yoshitomo Nara, and Zhang Daqian, celebrated as one of the 20th century’s most prolific Chinese artists. The combined value of these art marvels, ready to be unveiled on November 5, is estimated at an astounding $700 million.
Speaking to the significance and value of these artworks, Li Liyang, a seasoned art researcher and museum connoisseur, described them as absolute “blockbusters”. According to Liyang, these chosen pieces represent iconic artists who have not only shaped their respective eras but also dominated the art market with their influence and popularity.
China’s welcoming import regulations and supportive customs services have played a pivotal role in ensuring such priceless pieces can be showcased at the CIIE. A unique “free tax display trade” initiative permits these artworks to be exhibited for six months, with the potential for three subsequent renewals. This allows a cumulative display duration of up to two years. This flexible arrangement provides ample time for these masterpieces to be toured nationally prior to CIIE’s commencement. Post-expo, the possibility of selling these works is enhanced, with owners having the option to retain them within a Free Trade Zone until they locate prospective buyers.
Dai Qian, the deputy customs director at the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, emphasized that they are striving to devise a customs regulatory approach that aligns seamlessly with the growth of the international high-end art and cultural trade.
The upcoming CIIE is poised to house a total of 135 artistic and cultural gems. To accommodate this treasure trove, a dedicated zone spanning almost 3,000 square meters has been earmarked – marking the most expansive in the Expo’s chronicle. The event will also witness participation from illustrious art exhibitors from countries like the UK, the US, and Singapore. Renowned auction houses – Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips – are also slated to make their presence felt.
Shi Yi, deputy director of Pace Gallery at the CIIE, encapsulated the event’s essence, expressing hopes to leverage this global platform, allowing Chinese audiences to immerse in a plethora of international cultures.