Chinese Buying Spree, Record Painting Boost $54.9 Million Hong Kong Sale

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Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

An 18th-century Chinese imperial vase was the planned highlight of the Meiyintang collection of 80 works. It was estimated at more than $23 million and sold privately after the Hong Kong auction.

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Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

An 18th-century Chinese imperial vase was the planned highlight of the Meiyintang collection of 80 works. It was estimated at more than $23 million and sold privately after the Hong Kong auction. Close

An 18th-century Chinese imperial vase was the planned highlight of the Meiyintang collection of 80 works. It was... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Bottles of Romanee Conti, a rare red Burgundy, with vintages dating from 1964 to 1985. The wine is estimated to bring $160,000 for a case of 11. Close

Bottles of Romanee Conti, a rare red Burgundy, with vintages dating from 1964 to 1985. The wine is estimated to bring... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Bottles of white Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Haut-Brion Blanc 1989, and Montrachet Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1990, may fetch respectively $25,000 to $50,000 a case. Close

Bottles of white Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Haut-Brion Blanc 1989, and Montrachet Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1990,... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

"The Rietveld-Schroeder House at Nightfall" by Liu Ye is in the Contemporary Asian Art sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong on April 4, estimated at $770,000. It fetched $1 million. Close

"The Rietveld-Schroeder House at Nightfall" by Liu Ye is in the Contemporary Asian Art sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong on... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Two bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000 were part of the Classic Cellar Sale organized by Sotheby's. The 5-Jeroboam size lot was estimated at $12,000 and 6-Imperial size lot at $18,000. The lots fetched HK$145,200. Close

Two bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000 were part of the Classic Cellar Sale organized by Sotheby's. The... Read More

Source: Smothery's via Bloomberg

A pair of Harry Winston diamond pendant earrings, for sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 6. The earrings total 36.48 carats and are estimated at $4.8 million. Close

A pair of Harry Winston diamond pendant earrings, for sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 6. The earrings total... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion 1989. Eight 12-bottle cases of the wine were part of the Classic Cellar Sale organized by Sotheby's. Each case was estimated to fetch as much as $18,000. The lot fetched HK$193,600 with buyer's premium. Close

Bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion 1989. Eight 12-bottle cases of the wine were part of the Classic Cellar Sale organized... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Two bottles of Chateau Margaux from 1995 and 1996 were estimated to sell for as much as $10,000 each in Hong Kong. The 5-Imperial size bottles are part of the Classic Cellar Sale organized by Sotheby's. Close

Two bottles of Chateau Margaux from 1995 and 1996 were estimated to sell for as much as $10,000 each in Hong Kong.... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A jadeite bead necklace, for sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 6, is estimated at $4.5 million. Close

A jadeite bead necklace, for sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 6, is estimated at $4.5 million.

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A Patek Philippe platinum watch is estimated to sell for $700,000 in Hong Kong on April 7. The Tourbillon watch features a minute repeating retrograde perpetual calendar. Close

A Patek Philippe platinum watch is estimated to sell for $700,000 in Hong Kong on April 7. The Tourbillon watch... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Bidders take part in the Ullens sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 3, 2011. Close

Bidders take part in the Ullens sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 3, 2011.

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A 1988 triptych, "Forever Lasting Love" by Zhang Xiaogang, sold for HK$79 million ($10.1 million) in Hong Kong. The work, estimated to fetch as much as $3.8 million, was included in the Ullens Collection sale on April 3. Close

A 1988 triptych, "Forever Lasting Love" by Zhang Xiaogang, sold for HK$79 million ($10.1 million) in Hong Kong. The... Read More

Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

"Mask Series No. 4" by Zeng Fanzhi, is estimated to fetch as much as $1.3 million in a Hong Kong sale, as part of the Ullens Collection. It sold for HK$16.9 million ($2.2 million). Close

"Mask Series No. 4" by Zeng Fanzhi, is estimated to fetch as much as $1.3 million in a Hong Kong sale, as part of the... Read More

A painting by Zhang Xiaogang set an auction record for a work by a contemporary Chinese artist last night as Asian buyers competed at a HK$427.2 million ($54.9 million) sale by Sotheby’s (BID) in Hong Kong.

Zhang’s triptych “Forever Lasting Love” fetched HK$79 million with fees, more than double a hammer-price estimate of as much as HK$30 million, with the anonymous winning bid taken by telephone from Miety Heiden of Sotheby’s, New York. It was the top lot of 105 offered by Guy Ullens, founder of Beijing’s largest private art museum, with a $16.7 million total estimate.

“Prices of Chinese artists will continue to rise,” Gu Zhenqing, 47, who has been buying contemporary works for 10 years, said in an interview at the sale. “I’m confident that the price of a work by a Chinese artist will exceed the 100 million yuan ($15.3 million) mark this year. That could be Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi or someone else.”

The sale is part of a 3,600-lot series, Hong Kong’s first major auction of the year, with a presale estimate of HK$2.4 billion, said New York-based Sotheby’s, the world’s biggest publicly traded auction company. The event, starting with a weekend wine sale that raised HK$136.5 million over three days, will show whether rising wealth in China will continue to drive an increase in demand and prices.

Three more artist records were set in the first hour of the Ullens event: for Zhang Peili, Wang Guangyi and Geng Jianyi, with prices of as much as $3 million.

Record Outlook

“It’s difficult to get quality art in the market and the Ullens collection comprises important pieces,” said Dong Keming, 44, a Beijing-based art dealer. “Whenever there’s a good work, there is likely to be record.”

Ullens sold 18 works from his collection through Chinese auction house Poly International Auction Co. in 2009 for $22.2 million, including a classical 12th-century ink scroll painted by the Northern Song Dynasty’s Huizong Emperor, “Rare Birds Painted From Life,” which fetched 55.1 million yuan.

The Belgian collector opened his Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 2007 in the Dashanzi art district of Beijing, known as “798” after a former electronics factory on the site.

“This is a very special collection,” said Bruce Merivale- Austin, who kept bidding for works and losing to phone buyers. “Prices are way above estimates. It has a provenance about it you can’t get from a normal auction.” He finally managed to win a gunpowder-on-paper work by Cai Guo Qiang for HK$1.2 million.

Once in Lifetime

The quality of the Ullens works meant there are few comparable pieces and it was “a once in a lifetime chance,” Karen Smith, an art historian, said before the sale.

“Art prices are still within a rational range,” said Ge Yaping, 42, a Chinese bidder from Nanjing, who bought a piece by Zhang Xiaogang. “Prices will continue to trend upward because of China’s economy.”

China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest auction market for fine art in 2010, according to research company Artprice, benefiting from the support of its government.

Sotheby’s Chinese contemporary art sales are followed by Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, traditional Chinese paintings, antiques, jewelry, watches and ceramics through April 8. The highlights are two private European collections: the Ullens sale, and one of ceramics, including an 18th-century Qing vase estimated at more than $23 million, on April 7.

To contact the writers on this story: Mary Linnane in Hong Kong at mlinnane2@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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