bloomberg.com, June 2, 2006
Christie's Sells Record HK$1.19 Bln Asian Art in Hong Kong Sale
By Le-Min Lim
June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Christie's International Plc's five- day Hong Kong
auction of 2,400 Asian jewels, paintings and ceramics fetched a record
HK$1.19 billion ($153 million), led by the sale of a Ming vase to Las
Vegas billionaire Stephen Wynn.
Wynn paid HK$78.5 million for the copper-red vase from the period of
Emperor Hongwu (1368-1398) and will donate the antique to a museum in
Macau where he is opening a casino in September, Christie's said.
Bidding by China and Hong Kong residents helped push prices of works by
Zhang Xiaogang and other Chinese artists to more than ten times their
``Money is not worth much in Asia these days because there's so much of
it,'' said Mourad Hatik, a Bangkok-based jewelry and art collector.
``With the stock market so volatile, people would rather buy rare art
pieces or antiques.''
The price of Wynn's vase has quintupled since it was first sold in Hong
Kong in May 1988, matching the rise in the city's benchmark Hang Seng
stock index. China's economic growth at more than 10 percent annually in
the past three years has swelled the ranks of Asia's millionaires, who
are buying art and antiques to diversify their investments, said Kong
Eng Huat, the Singapore- based head of Merrill Lunch Investment's
private banking unit.
Demand for contemporary Chinese art was particularly strong at the auction.
``Amnesia and Memory: Boy,'' a 2005 oil-painting by Zhang, born in 1958
in China's southwestern province Yunnan, fetched HK$3.5 million, 12
times Christie's top estimate. Yue Minjun's 1995 work ``Enchanted
Spring'' sold for HK$4.8 million, six times the high end of the auction
``We are very pleased with the results'' of the auction, said Keh Yeh,
deputy chairman of Christie's Asia. ``There was competitive bidding
across the board.''
Mountains, Forest and Insects
Works by 19th- and 20th-century Chinese painters such as Zhang Daqian,
Qi Baishi and Lin Fengmian sold for prices closer to Christie's estimates.
Cui Ruzhuo's ``Snowy Mountains'' was sold to an unidentified Asian
private collector for HK$14.7 million, triple Christie's top-end
estimate. Wu Guanzhong's ``Forest'' went for HK$6.8 million, within the
auction house's HK$6 million to HK$8 million range. ``Insects and
Plants,'' a painting by Qi (1863-1957), fetched HK$6.3 million, 5
percent higher than the top estimate.
``Classical Chinese paintings are more difficult to interpret than
contemporary ones,'' said Stephen McGuinness, a Hong Kong-based art
dealer and gallery owner. ``But that's definitely where the long-term
investment value lies.''
Chinese modern masters still command much lower prices than
contemporaries in Western art. Pablo Picasso's ``Dora Maar au Chat,''
which features the artist's lover, fetched $95.2 million at a New York
sale last month.
McGuinness, 56, said Fu Baoshi, Xu Beihong, Zhang and Qi belong to a
group of 50 Chinese painters whose works could fetch as much as Piccaso's.
Some dealers said the increase in prices of Chinese contemporary art may
``These prices are crazy,'' said Hatik, 56. ``It's the new collectors
with new money buying these works. There may be a speculative bubble.''
In the jewelry sales, London-based Laurence Graff paid HK$18.6 million
for a 9.25-carat cushion-shaped Burmese ruby, the priciest item sold in
the gem category. In February, Graff paid a record $425,000 a carat for
a ruby in the Swiss resort of St. Moritz. Graff, famous for his yellow
diamonds, has stores in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and other cities.
A flawless 13.5 carat diamond, the size of an olive, sold for HK$9.4
million, in line with Christie's top-end estimate.
``The Chinese are swooping in and buying all the D-, E-, F- grade
diamonds,'' said Benny Pek, 53, an Indonesian jeweler who flew in from
Jakarta to attend the auction. ``The Chinese have become the big shots
at these auctions. We can't compete.''
The sale ended yesterday. Christie's and rival Sotheby's Holdings Inc.
hold auctions twice a year in Hong Kong. London- based Christie's counts
Hong Kong as its third-biggest market after New York and London.
bloomberg.com, May 29, 2006
Christie's Modern Asian Art Sale Nets $46 Mln, Double Estimate
By Le-Min Lim
May 29 (Bloomberg) -- A 1960 oil painting by China-born Chu Teh-Chun led a Hong Kong auction of Asian modern art by Christie's International Plc that fetched a total of HK$353 million ($45.5 million), double the amount expected.
``Village de pluie rouge, Maison de nuage blanc No. 53'' by Paris-based Chu went to an unidentified Asian collector for HK$25.9 million, four times the top-end estimate, Christie's said. ``Amnesia and Memory: Boy,'' a 2005 oil-painting by Zhang Xiaogang fetched HK$3.5 million ($451,243), 12 times the official top estimate at yesterday's sale.
``I was surprised it sold for that much,'' said Ken Yeh, deputy chairman of Christie's Asia, in a phone interview. ``I thought this painting would sell for about HK$1.5 million.''
In the last two years, American and European bidders have begun competing fiercely with local collectors for contemporary Chinese art, especially those by artists who experienced political upheavals such as the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, said Yeh on May 25.
``Village de pluie'' shows black ink lines on a blood-red background, reminiscent of the sword movements of Chinese martial arts, Christie's said.
Zhang, born in 1958 in China's southwestern province of Yunnan, draws inspiration from private collections of old family photos, and from charcoal portraits and sketches by street vendors in China.
Among the 444 works by Asian artists auctioned in the sale, Yue Minjun's 1995 work ``Enchanted Spring'', which depicts a grinning androgyne in white heels and a striped T-shirt, sold for HK$4.8 million, six times Christie's top estimate.
In November, ``Gweong-Gweong,'' a 1993 oil on canvas by Yue, a native of China's northeastern oil-town of Daqing, fetched HK$4.9 million at Christie's in Hong Kong, compared with a top estimate of HK$450,000.
``Marilyn Monroe versus Chairman Mao'', a red-and-white painting by Korean artist Kim Dong-Yoo, sold for HK$2.6 million yesterday, 26 times the high-end estimate for the work.
Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres's ``Terrace affording a view of the sea'' sold for HK$13.6 million, the highest price for a Southeast Asian piece. The Belgian-born artist, who died in 1958, portrayed Indonesian women in his impressionistic piece.
The sale was part of a five-day auction of art, ceramics and jewelry by Christie's that ends June 1. The highlight is a Ming Dynasty copper-red vase that's expected to fetch a record HK$60 million when offered tomorrow.
Christie's and rival Sotheby's Holdings Inc. hold auctions twice a year in Hong Kong. London-based Christie's counts Hong Kong as its third-biggest market after New York and London.
with kind regards,
Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)
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