The pièce de résistance at Art Basel Hong Kong may have been an installation showing the life-like bodies of Lenin, Kim Il Sung, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh in plexiglass coffins. Castro was still in a hospital bed, but the artist claims the work will be updated. Globalists embraced the installation; political milestones have been economic ones. The Hong Kong event also pointed to the future. Google was busy promoting virtual-reality art. There were Japanese buyers in the mix who were looking to do something asset-worthy with their yen. As an economic indicator, Art Basel provided evidence that Chinese wealth is regaining confidence, even with a weaker renminbi and capital-export restrictions. The uber-affluent, however, may have new-found limits. Chinese connoisseurs were once indiscriminate in their art purchases. They now make acquisitions with an academic, discerning eye. That point offers an important lesson for investment deal makers and private bankers. ■
Our Vantage Point: In China, the freewheeling days of the high-growth era are behind us. Expect to see more-and-more evidence of a sophisticated and sober financial sector.
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Image: Art Basel was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (left). Credit: Ego450 at Can Stock Photo Inc.