Record Diamond Tops Sotheby’s $493 Million Hong Kong Sale

The largest diamond of its type offered at auction, Haut-Brion wines and a Chenghua-era porcelain bowl will lead Sotheby’s Hong Kong autumn sales estimated to raise as much as HK$3.8 billion ($493 million).

The oval D-color Flawless Type IIa, 118.28-carat diamond was mined in South Africa in 2011 and is estimated to sell for as much as HK$280 million, the New York-based company said.

Sotheby’s said the five-day, 3,571-lot marathon starting tomorrow, celebrating 40 years of Asia events, is the largest and most expensive sale series it has staged in Hong Kong.

“They have outdone themselves and they have really pulled out all the stops to get great material,” said James Hennessy, a Hong Kong-based dealer. “A lot of presale estimates will get thrashed.”

Many records will probably be set during the Oct. 4 to Oct. 8 sales. Hong Kong-based dealer Pascal de Sarthe said that a triptych by Chinese abstract painter Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013) will break his artist record of HK$69 million set in 2011.

A 2001 oil painting, “The Last Supper” by Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi, is estimated to sell for more than HK$80 million, surpassing Zhang Xiaogang’s record of HK$79 million for a contemporary work by a Chinese artist. Both works come from the Switzerland-based couple Myriam and Guy Ullens de Schooten, who are selling off parts of what’s considered one of the best private collections of contemporary Chinese art.

Leonardo, Bacon

Zeng’s work is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s wall painting in a style that recalls Francis Bacon. Nearly four meters (13 feet) long and 2.2 meters high, it shows Christ and his 12 disciples wearing masks and communist Young Pioneers uniforms seated at a table strewn with watermelon fragments.

As collectors turn increasingly to embrace contemporary works from other parts of Asia, Filipino artist Ronald Ventura’s painting “Magicaland,” has a high estimate of HK$1.28 million.

Ventura’s painting “Grayground” raised HK$8.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2011, the most ever paid at auction for a Southeast Asian contemporary artist.

A 1934 idealized landscape painted in Bali by German Walter Spies may break the artist’s record of HK$14 million, said Galuh Sukardi, junior specialist of Southeast Asian paintings.

Other auction highlights include the Chenghua period (1465-87) blue-and-white porcelain bowl that may fetch as much as HK$80 million.

A rare Tang dynasty (618-907) dry lacquer head of Buddha from the 90-year-old Japanese collector Sakamoto Goro is likely to exceed its high estimate of HK$30 million on Oct. 8.

The sales start with two days of wine auctions, including vintages from the cellars of Chateau Haut-Brion.

The day’s top lot contains 20 bottles from the winemaker spanning the years 1935 to 2011 that come with a Domaine Clarence Dillon console designed by David Linley. It is estimated to raise as much as HK$1.2 million for Medecins Sans Frontieres Hong Kong.

(Frederik Balfour is a reporter-at-large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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