Last May, three Chinese buyers spent $116 million in one night at a Sotheby's art auction.
Chinese property company Dalian Wanda Group shelled out $20.4 million for one of Monet's masterpieces: "Bassin aux nympheas les rosiers." Chinese media mogul Wang Zhongjun paid $29.9 million for Picasso's "Femme au Chignon un Fauteuil," while an unknown Chinese buyer paid $66.3 million for Van Gogh's "L'allee des Alyscamps."
Commenting on their big-money Monet, Dalian Wanda's art chief told CNBC: "I think that it's decently priced."
What counts as a "decent price" for Chinese art collectors, however, may be changing. With Chinese stocks in a tailspin and China's economy slowing, the Chinese rich have lost billions of dollars in paper wealth over the past two months. Now art market experts are wondering if China's stock slide could also spill over into the broader $50 billion-a-year global art market, which has seen a string of record prices driven in part by Chinese demand.
"I think there will definitely be an impact," said Ken Yeh, director at Acquavella Galleries and former chairman of Christie's Asia. "Chinese collectors have become a very important part of the market."