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Petrus, Sanyu and Snuff Boxes Lead Hong Kong Auctions

One of four imperials (six liter bottles) of Petrus from 2005-2008, selling at Christie's in International Hong Kong on May 27. The bottles sold for more than HK$780,000 including a 22 percent commission, compared with presales estimates of HK$500,000 to HK$700,000. Source: Christie's via Bloomberg

Asian art collectors and wine lovers, undaunted by economic concern elsewhere in the world, flocked to Hong Kong sales held by five auction houses to snap up imperials of Petrus, Chinese paintings and snuff bottles.

Christie’s International five-day spring sale starting on May 26 sold 100 percent of the lots at its wine auction, while more than 90 percent of Asian contemporary and 20th-century works found buyers at the evening session, for a total of HK$362 million ($46.7 million). The presale estimate for the series by Christie’s is as much as $260 million.

“It was pretty good,” Edouard Malingue, a Hong Kong-based dealer, said at Christie’s. “Everybody was forecasting it would be bad because of the economic problems of Europe.”

The most expensive lot of the evening was “Blue Chrysanthemum in a Glass Vase” by 20th-century Chinese artist Sanyu. The oil painting sold for HK$47.7 million, beating a presale highest estimate of HK$28 million.

A record was set for Indonesian artist Affandi, when his work entitled “At the Cockfight” sold for HK$5.54 million with fees, more than three times its highest estimate at hammer prices.

Fine-wine demand proved resilient at Zachys May 25-26 sale, where 97 percent of lots sold. The New York-based auction house sold HK$57.59 worth of wine, led by a six-liter methuselah of Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti that fetched HK$1.16 million.

Imperials of Petrus

The most expensive lot at Christie’s wine sale was a parcel of four six-liter imperials of Petrus from 2005-2008, selling for more than HK$780,000 including a 22 percent commission, compared with presales estimates of HK$500,000 to HK$700,000.

Acker, Merrall & Condit, the world’s largest wine auction house, said it earned more than HK$70 million on May 25-26, with 95 percent of more than 1,000 lots sold. The top lot was a case of 1947 Cheval Blanc that sold for HK$1.48 million.

Taipei-based Ravenel International Art Group was the latest auction house to tap the Hong Kong market with its inaugural wine sale yesterday.

The sale raised HK$15.4 million including HK$1.5 million paid for an assortment of seven jeroboams (three liters) of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

Though just 73 percent of the 305 lots sold, Elaine Holt, vice president of art auctions who runs Ravenel’s Hong Kong office said the company had made a reasonable start.

“There are so many auctions and so much wine available so it’s hard to do really,” she said. “It was so-so but most of our top lots sold well.”

Snuff Bottles

Bonhams also achieved 100 percent success in its auction of 168 snuff bottles yesterday, raising HK$42.4 million. The top lot was an enameled copper-with-gold bottle made for the Qianlong emperor between 1736-1775 that sold for HK$4.8 million.

Bonhams raised HK$313 million from wine, cognac, ceramics, jewelry and Chinese paintings, led by an oil-on-gaoli paper portrait of imperial consort Chunhui attributed to Italian missionary-artist Giuseppe Castiglione in the 18th century that sold for HK$39.86 million yesterday.

Christie’s sales of modern and traditional Chinese painting, watches, jewels and ceramics run through May 30.

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