>> Art dealers at one of Asia's biggest exhibitions always have money on their minds, but this year, a cash lifeline is getting squeezed by mainland China. Over the past six months, Beijing slammed lucrative Chinese buyers, hugely restricting currency leaving the country. I'm Farah Master at Art Basel here in Hong Kong.
Mainland buyers are very important at fairs like these. But increasingly, dealers are finding that they're not able to pay on time, or pay at all, because of China's increasing constraints on the currency. Now, while people here sip champagne and take selfies, this is a huge problem that dealers are thinking of right now.
Buyers from China were shot in the arm for a flagging global art market, and Art Basel says they made of a fifth of global sales last year, and Hong Kong's been key for the deals. There's no tax, and plus the local bank notes are pegged to American dollars.
Gallery owners are finding that increasingly customers are asking to pay in installments. This is fine as long as they pay, but sometimes the repayment period can stretch til up to three years. Now there is a way to get the money out if a gallery accepts payment in China's own currency, the renminbi, but Beijing might be able to track those payments.
Buyers who may be moving money out of the mainland to edge around Chinese President Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown may want to keep their taste for art a little more discreet.