Update: Christie’s HK Evening Auction of Contemporary Chinese And Asian Art A Success

Evening Sale of Chinese and Asian Contemporary and 20th Century Art Brings In $23.4 million – 89% Sold By Lot, 98% Sold By Value, Zao Wou-Ki Takes In $4,585,704 For One Painting

Sold for $858,037: Contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang's "Big Family Series No. 21" (1999)

Sold for $858,037: Contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang's "Big Family Series No. 21" (1999)

A quick update about Christie’s first out of three Asian and Chinese contemporary and 20th century art auctions currently taking place in Hong Kong. As of the first sale — the evening sale — bidding was strong and prices healthy, with historical and top artists selling well and for good prices. Some artists, such as Chinese artist Sanyu — who was sold for $5.4 million — set artist records, as the artist (who died in 1966) far exceeded the previous record set for his work in 2006.

Although I don’t have much detail yet about the buyer demographics — I’ll post an update once I do — here are some of the figures from the first night of auctions:

Zao Wou-Ki $7,660,122 (Total, for three works)
Cai Guo-Qiang $1,091,341
Zhang Xiaogang $858,037
Zeng Fanzhi $780,270
Liu Ye $624,734
Fang Lijun $593,627
Yoshitomo Nara (Japanese) $562,520
Chen Yifei $267,003

You can see the final results of all lots for the evening sale here. Updates will follow on the following auctions.

UPDATE 1: Le-Min Lim writes for Bloomberg this evening that Christie’s sale is a signal to many bidders that the recent slowdown in the art world is “over.”

Lim writes,

A painting by Chinese artist Sanyu fetched a record HK$42.1 ($5.4 million) at a Hong Kong auction as bidders fought for lots, betting that the worst of Asia’s art-market slump is over. Of the 38 lots offered yesterday at Christie’s International’s top selection of Asian art, 34 sold, raising a combined HK$181.7 million, according to the London-based auction house. That’s about twice the company’s presale estimate, said Kate Malin, a Christie’s spokeswoman. The 1950s oil painting “Cat and Birds,” the top lot, achieved a record price at auction for a work by deceased painter Sanyu.

“The results speak for themselves,” Michael Wang, chief executive of My Humble House Art Space and one of Asia’s top art collectors, said in an interview at the sale. “It’s a huge success. This auction tells me the slump in Asia’s artworks has ended.”

“The market loved it,” Foster said in an interview after the auction, held in a packed room.

As with Sotheby’s auction a month ago, works by Chinese masters fetched the highest prices. The painting by Sanyu (1901- 1966) and others by China-born, Paris-based artist Zao Wou-ki (1921 – ) were the four most-expensive sold.

Zao’s brown-and-black themed painting “Nous Deux” was the second-priciest lot yesterday, fetching HK$35.4 million, against a presale top estimate of HK$15 million.

Chinese contemporary art, Asia’s auction favorite before the credit crisis, found buyers, though for less money.

Cai Guoqiang’s “Rebuilding the Berlin Wall: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 7,” a 2-meter by 5.95-meter gunpowder and Chinese ink on Japanese paper made in 1990 sold for HK$8.4 million, the fifth most-expensive, against a presale top estimate of HK$8 million.

Zhang Xiaogang’s 1999 1.5-meter by 1.5-meter oil “Big Family Series No. 21” fetched HK$6.6 million, against a presale estimate range of HK$7 million to HK$9 million.

Works by other Chinese contemporary artists, Fang Lijun, Liu Ye, Zeng Fanzhi and Wu Dayu, rounded up the top-10 lots.

Christie’s auction continues today with the day sale of Asia contemporary art and Chinese modern paintings.


UPDATE 2: “Rising Sun” Goes For $422,538, Four Times Higher than Its Estimate Of $103,690 – $155,535

Liu Ye's "Rising Sun" demolished its estimates, bringing in nearly four times as much

I’m going to post more updates about the final sale in Christie’s successful three-part Hong Kong auction later, once more details are released, but one story I thought was worth mentioning is how well contemporary Chinese artists did in the final day sale. Liu Ye, who we’ve written about before, bested his estimate by nearly $300,000. The strength and health of the bidding these last few days has been really remarkable. As others have written, this could indicate two things: that either the global art market is getting back on its feet; or that the Asian collector base has exploded and become much more motivated to buy. Although recent sales in New York were better than expected, it appears as if the real driver of the art market at the moment is in the East.

Although figures are still coming in, it looks like other Chinese contemporary artists also did well in the day sale. Wang Guangyi, one of the more famous contemporary artists in China, beat estimates on his “Great Criticism – Buick” (1999), which went for $134,797, over its estimate of $77,768 – $129,613. Yue Minjun’s “Red No. 1” (1999) went for $127,021, over its estimate of $77,768 – $103,690, and Guan Yong’s “Dialecticians” (2006) went for $173,681, beating its estimate of $77,768 – $103,690.
Updates will follow when new stories are posted.

After the runaway success of the evening sale of contemporary art, and yesterday’s surprising sale of older works — in which all of the top 10 lots were from Chinese masters — and the day sale’s good returns, it looks like the Chinese auction market is alive and well. As the Chinese and Asian collector base continues its rapid expansion — as we’ve seen this weekend and in other recent auctions — it looks like works by regional artists will continue to meet and beat estimates.

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2 responses to “Update: Christie’s HK Evening Auction of Contemporary Chinese And Asian Art A Success

  1. Pingback: Ravenel’s 10th Anniversary Spring Auction Of Asian Art A Success « ChinaLuxCultureBiz

  2. Pingback: Yue Minjun Sails Past Estimates At Phillips Contemporary Auction « ChinaLuxCultureBiz

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