This Chinese Auction House Wants to Buy $1 Billion of Detroit’s Art

On 15/04/2014 by Site Default


Chinese companies have been on a buying spree around the globe for mineralsoil and real estate. Add art to the shopping list.

Poly International Auction was named as one of four bidders looking to buy a portion of Detroit’s world-class art collection, according to court documents. The Beijing-based company said it would spend up to $1 billion on the museum’s Chinese works.

Detroit is bankrupt, and its valuable art collection has become a potential source of new funds to pay off the $18 billion it owes. One of its largest creditors has solicited bids from investors to buy the collection in entire or in parts, or to lend money to the museum to keep the collection together, using the art as collateral.

Poly Auction is mainland China’s largest auction firm and the world’s third-largest, after Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The firm is owned by Poly Culture Group3636.HK -1.49%, a company that in turn is owned by the China Poly Group corporation, a conglomerate borne out of the People’s Liberation Army.

Industry experts say that while it’s not usual practice, auction houses sometimes buy items outright as a way to secure them for future sales.

Poly Culture also owns and runs performance theaters in China as well as an art collection and museum. The company held an IPO earlier this year, but the majority of its shares are owned by the state.

Poly Culture has been on a buying spree to repatriate Chinese treasures that have been in foreign hands. Its art collection, partially exhibited at its headquarters in Beijing, includes several bronze-cast heads that were taken by foreign powers from the Old Summer Palace in the 19th century.

Leave a Reply