After yet another Chinese billionaire’s record-breaking auction purchase (Modigliani's 1917 Nu Couche) Dent Research ('The Ultimate Global Collapse Indicator', 12 2015) warns tough times may be ahead, while I am not sure I accept the main argument, one of the issues touched upon has relevance here:
World-famous auction houses, like Christies and Sotheby’s (NYSE: BID), have been riding high atop a euphoric wave of new-money Chinese millionaires (and billionaires)… who flourished amidst the country’s state-sponsored build-and-urbanize program. And these cash-rich buyers just couldn’t satiate their appetite for high-priced art. Really, though, it’s not about the art. It’s about the prestige. It’s about the aura of wealth: a because-I-can mentality. As art dealer Andrew Kahane put it: “Chinese buyers want to be seen [that’s key] spending a lot of money. They want to be seen setting world records.” [...] Among China’s elite, uber-wealthy, it’s less about fine art. It’s more about fine art at any cost! And, many times, simply for the show of it! But these Chinese bravado-buyers aren’t really unique, from an historical perspective.Indeed, a lot of antiquities collecing (and artefact hunting) is embedded in precisely this "because I can (and you can't touch me for it)" mentality. The article links the trade in such prestige goods to "the bubbliest pockets of unsustainable wealth creation in the world" (corporate Japan in 1989, Silicon valley.com in 1999, US property investment 2007 etc). The problem is this process then concentrates the most valuable art in locations where reaction might ultimately take the form of conflict - placing the collected objects in danger.