With the Hong Kong sales just ending and the Beijing Poly sales now underway, it looks like another banner season for the Chinese art auction market. Christie’s Hong Kong finished up with a record almost US$500 million in sales at their May auctions. And, of course, China Guardian sales made big news with a painting by modern master Qi Baishi selling for $65 million. Who is driving the market? The newly minted Chinese millionaires (who now number more than a million)including financiers and private company owners who are putting their money in Chinese art…everything from porcelains to contemporary art. One group in particular, Shaanxi coal mine owners, are, to quote one Shanghai-based dealer, “are very comfortable” putting their cash into art. And from the looks of some of the more aggressive bidders last night at the modern ink painting sale last night, this appears to be true. Missing at the auction were foreign buyers. This is in part due to the restrictions on what can be taken out of China; it is also due to the different tastes of domestic and overseas collectors of Chinese art. However, this may change soon as Beijing Poly and Guardian get up to speed on attracting foreign buyers to sales which include “overlap” artists, like Liu Ye, Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang etc…and start marketing artists popular in China to overseas collectors. According to Forbes magazine, Beijing Poly is considering establishing a branch in New York.