A jadeite bead necklace sold for HK$214 million ($27.6 million) at Sotheby’s (BID) Hong Kong last night, setting an auction record for such jewelry.
The bidding lasted more than 18 minutes before Sotheby’s Asia Deputy Chairman Daryl Wickstrom made the winning bid on behalf of the Cartier (CFR) Collection on the telephone. The necklace sold for more than twice the presale estimate of HK$100 million. The packed sale room erupted in applause when auctioneer Quek Chin Yeow announced the record.
“This necklace is as famous at it gets,” Quek, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said after the sale. “It ticks all the right boxes in terms of beauty, history, provenance and quality.”
Consisting of 27 green beads and a ruby clasp by Cartier, it was given to Woolworth retail heiress Barbara Hutton by her father in 1933 and last sold at auction in 1994 for HK$33 million. The previous auction record of HK$106 million for a jadeite necklace was set in 2012, Sotheby’s said.
It was the latest of several records set during the five-day sale ending today, including an artist record of HK$94.2 million for Chinese contemporary painter Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958) and a Southeast Asian artist record of HK$58.4 million by Indonesian painter S. Sudjojono (1914-1986).
Another record may fall today when a porcelain cup made for the Chenghua emperor (1465-1487) with a high estimate of HK$300 million goes under the hammer.
The cup, owned by Philippines-born businessman Stephen Zuellig, who is in his late nineties, measures only 8 centimeters in diameter and is nicknamed the “Chicken Cup” for its depiction of a rooster, his hen and their chicks, an allegorical representation of the emperor, the empress and his subjects.
The existing auction record for a Chinese work of art was set in October when Chinese property developer Zheng Huaxing paid HK$236 million for a bronze Buddha at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
Zhang Xiaogang’s painting titled “Bloodline: Big Family No.3,” painted in 1995, sold for HK$94.2 million on April 5, breaking his previous record of HK$79 million, according to Artnet.
Sudjojono’s work titled “Our Soldiers Led Under Prince Diponegoro,” (1979) smashed the previous record of HK$36 million set by Indonesian artist Lee Man Fong at Christie’s Hong Kong in November.
Of the top 10 lots at the same evening sale, nine were purchased by Asians, according to Sotheby’s, suggesting that slowing economic growth in China hasn’t damped regional demand for art. Sotheby’s realized HK$1.08 billion in sales in the first three days of its spring auctions.
Five bidders vied for several minutes to purchase the 1995 Zhang oil on canvas measuring 179 centimeters (70.5 inches) by 229 centimeters. The iconic three-member family portrait is the only one of his Bloodline series to feature a Little Red Guard wearing a Mao badge, Sotheby’s said.
Records were achieved by Japanese contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara (HK$15.7 million), Indonesians Sudjana Kerton (HK$13.2 million) and Ay Tjoe Christine (HK$4.6 million), and Vietnamese modern painter Le Pho (HK$3 million).
The Sotheby’s sales kicked off with two days of wine auctions on April 4-5, where HK$100 million of wine was sold. A six-bottle lot of 1990 Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti fetched HK$1.35 million.
Today’s auctions include fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, furniture, bronzes and watches, where the top lot is a Patek Philippe platinum wristwatch estimated at between HK$5.2 million and HK$6.2 million.
Beijing-based competitors Poly Auction and China Guardian are holding sales in Hong Kong April 6-9.
To contact the reporter on this story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org