Whispering Gallery: Nipping at the Heels
The new battle for art-market supremacy is on in Asia. Pre-Covid, commercial centers from New Delhi to Tokyo were considered provincial compared to the tax-free, glittering, Chinese and international entrepôt of Hong Kong. In recent months, the playing field has shifted thanks to the pandemic and China’s fantasy of conjuring up a zero-Covid reality. Suffocating social-distancing measures implemented across the Middle Kingdom, including in its largest commercial center as well as in its once-glittering appendage in the Pearl River Delta, have transformed it into a 21st-century Hermit Kingdom. Asian capitals, particularly those with cultural pretensions and fully functioning airports, are looking at ways to benefit while Hong Kong is hamstrung by travel restrictions.