With stock and property markets on shaky ground, investors in China and Hong Kong are pouring money into art. But as Farah Master reports, few if any of these pieces will end up hanging above the mantlepiece.
Millions of dollars worth of art packed up tight at this temperature-controlled Hong Kong warehouse.
It's not the stockpile of some art-obsessed collector - it's more like a stock market.
Takung Art sells shares of things like Tibetan porcelain stones and modern Chinese paintings. And it's taking off big time.
This is how it works: People who own a work of art can list it on Takung's trading platform. Its price tag is then broken down into a number of shares, which users can then trade. After 10 years, the piece is sold and the profit's divided between shareholders.
"The China investment environment hasn't been that great from the housing market perspective for the past few years," CFO of Hong Kong Takung Assets Leslie Chow said. "So maybe [investors] are looking for alternative investment."
Takung is tapping into huge angst among China's wealthy; with stock markets and property prices slumping, investors are desperate for a safe haven. But analysts like Jehad Chu, director of Vermillion Art Collections, say handle this business model should be approached with caution.
"You should learn about the asset that you're trading, first and foremost. Then what I really suggest is that they collect art, that they buy the art, that they meet the artist and they support the overall system. I'm not sure I would suggest that this is the best way for them to enter the art world," Chu said.
Takung's success comes as big auction houses like Sotheby's and Christies' face a slowdown. But they're hardly likely to jump on board the bandwagon.
Sotheby's says they want to sell art for people to actually look at; any financial gain should just be considered a bonus.