SHANGHAI—In late January in Shanghai, the French firm ArtCurial became the first foreign auction house to to hold a sale under its own banner in mainland China—four months after acquiring premises in the city.
The inaugural sale of ArtCurial China—a joint-venture with local media mogul Bruno Wu, head of Sun Media—took place at the Hong Qiao State Guest Hotel on Jan. 20.
Only one of the 72 lots went unsold as the sale brought RMB 60 million ($8.3 million) against a presale estimate of RMB 40/54 million ($5.5/7.5 million). Chinese bidders set the pace—whether the newly rich of Shanghai and Beijing or members of the diaspora from Singapore to Taiwan.
The sale featured 66 artists, mostly Chinese, with figurative works predominating. The top price of RMB 24.1 million ($3.3 million) went to Chen Yifei’s The Artist with Beauties, 1999, the second-highest price ever obtained for the artist. It fell to Beijing film-producer Wang Zhong Jun.
A Zao Wou Ki painting, Untitled, 1986, sold on low-estimate for RMB 3.9 million ($538,161). Most works were in line with their estimates, but those that climbed higher than expected included Yan Ping’s 1999 oil-on-canvas Studio Alone, at RMB 3.58 million ($494,000).
ArtCurial chief Nicolas Orlowski now hopes to “step up the development of ArtCurial China,” with more sales planned for the fall.