Yue Minjun: Targeting 25%+ Appreciation in Chinese Blue Chip Art

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Yue Minjun, Untitled, 2005, Oil on canvas

Yue Minjun is a contemporary Chinese artist best known for his paintings that depict himself with his trademark exaggerated laugh. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you are likely to have encountered one of his artworks at some point. His paintings, prints and sculptures feature in the collections of most major art museums and collections within China and globally, including the Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco) the Denver Art Museum, the Busan Museum of Art.

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Yue Minjun, Untitled (Smile-ism No. 7), 2006, Edition 9/45

In 2007, Yue Minjun reached a price milestone when three of his artworks were sold for over US$3 million each, including the renowned piece “Execution,” which became the most expensive artwork by a Chinese contemporary artist at the time (US$6.9 million). In the 15 years since this milestone, interest in other Chinese artists has waned a little, but Yue Minjun’s popularity has stood the test of time and to this day is consistently among the top five most sought-after Chinese artists on Artsy (the other artists in 2022 being Ai Weiwei, Liu Bolin, Ren Hang, and Zhuang Hong Yi.)

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Yue Minjun, The Three Musketeers, 2022, Edition of 130

As such, I’m of the opinion that his prints are underpriced for an artist of his stature. Prints from limited editions, even those with less than 100 copies, or sometimes even as few as 50, are being sold for prices lower than US$5,000. I think these prices will correct upwards over time, with the low edition numbers helping to drive demand. This will be further boosted by a growing base of western collectors who want to diversify away from the typical US and UK based blue chip artists, as well as the fast growing Asian-collector base buying up the top local talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if these small-edition prints appreciated by 25% or more over the next decade.

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