After 11 years, Pace Gallery is shuttering its space in Beijing, which opened in 2008, years before other U.S. and European mega-galleries expanded to Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The reason for the closure, as Pace founder Arne Glimcher told ARTnews, is the trade war between the U.S. and China, which has made doing business and making sales increasingly difficult. As U.S. President Donald Trump has toyed with imposing tariffs on any luxury good that comes in from the mainland, and China has imposed a 38 percent tariff on any luxury item purchased on the mainland under President Xi Jinping.
As Glimcher told ARTnews:
It’s impossible to do business in mainland China right now and it has been for a while. [. . .] The last straw is Trump’s duty on Chinese [art] coming into this country and Xi Jinping’s duty on Americans coming into China.
He added that “people are afraid to conspicuously show their wealth and the mainland Chinese are not buying in China” and often buy in Hong Kong, or other hubs around the world.
The Art Newspaper pointed out that Philip Tinari, the director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, sounded off on the news on Twitter, indicating that the situation in his city may not be as dire as Glimcher makes it out to be. He cited the “hundreds, maybe thousands” of collectors who have emerged in the last decade, and “the incredible extent to which they have become conversant with the global art world,” as reasons the art scene can continue to flourish in Beijing—though he did acknowledge that the primary market hub in Asia is Hong Kong.
Pace will keep an office in Beijing to deal with its Chinese artists, which make up some 16% of its roster. The gallery also may expand its presence in Hong Kong, where it already has two outposts.