ARTnewsletter Archive

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sales Reap Rewards of Regional Buying

Sotheby’s Hong Kong spring sale series, held April 2–4, totaled HK$2.4 billion ($316 million), compared with a total last spring of HK$2.6 billion ($337 million).

NEW YORK—Sotheby’s Hong Kong spring sale series, held April 2–4, totaled HK$2.4 billion ($316 million), compared with a total last spring of HK$2.6 billion ($337 million).

While Chinese ceramics and works of art, as well as jewelry, continue to be the top-earning sales categories here, auctions of modern and contemporary Asian art also performed well.

In the evening contemporary Asian art sale on April 2, the total was HK$211.3 million ($27 million) with Bloodline – Big Family: Big Family No. 2, 1993, an oil on canvas by top-selling Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang, having sold for HK$52.2 million ($6.7 million). An acrylic on canvas, 1993 No. 4, 1993, by Fang Lijun, fetched HK$28.7 million ($3.7 million). Both of these were sold to a museum in Shanghai.

Evelyn Lin, head of contemporary Asian art, said, “We were able to source numerous desirable works of Xiaogang’s for sale, notably this masterpiece.” A record was also set for Jia Aili’s It’s Not Only You Who is Pale (Triptych), 2007, an oil on canvas with a painted wooden chair. The painting sold for HK$6.6 million ($848,718), surpassing the HK$2.5 million/3.8 million estimate.

The 20th-century Chinese art category totaled HK$255 million ($32.6 million), while modern and contemporary Southeast Asian paintings on April 2 brought in HK$96 million ($12.3 million). Of the 166 lots offered, 79 percent were sold by lot, 92 percent by value. The top lot was Banyan with Two Young Balinese, by Walter Spies, which sold for HK$9.6 million ($1.2 million), followed by Self Portrait with Child, by Hendra Gunawan, which sold for HK$6 million ($771,794).

Records were set for contemporary works, including Red Ceiling by Ay Tjoe Christine, which sold for HK$2.4 million ($310,256), well above the high estimate of HK$350,000, and The Purple Curtain by Vietnamese artist Le Pho, which sold for HK$2.9 million ($371,795), again clearing the high estimate of HK$800,000.

Said specialist Mok Kim Chuan, “as in previous seasons, bidding came from all over Asia with determined interest from new markets in the Greater China region.”

Zao Wou-Ki, a pioneer in abstract work, figured in five of the top-ten lots in the 20th-century Chinese art category, on April 2, with his 25.06.86 setting a new auction record when it sold for HK$25.3 million ($3.24 million). His 25.05.70 followed, selling for HK$24.2 million ($3.1 million). Both works were bought by Asian private buyers.

On April 3, the fine Chinese paintings sale realized HK$468 million ($60 million). A pair of gold screens, Willows at the Riverside; Begonias by Qi Baishi was bought by an Asian private bidder for HK$70.1 million ($9 million), three times the high estimate of HK$20 million. Mount Lu by Fu Baoshi was sold for HK$24.2 million ($3.1 million) at three times the high estimate of HK$7 million.