Romanee-Conti, Zeng Fanzhi, Diamonds Boost Asia Auctions

Bottles of Romanee-Conti 1999, a Zeng Fanzhi painting and a rare 1932 Leica camera are leading lots in a six-day marathon in Hong Kong by six auction houses.

Christie’s International and Bonhams are joined by Sotheby’s, Zachys, Ravenel International Art Group, and Seoul Auction in a series of sales through Nov. 26.

The mood among buyers may be buoyed by record-setting sales of art in New York and diamonds in Geneva earlier this month. Christie’s had its largest postwar and contemporary sale in New York last week, earning $691.6 million and breaking records for 10 artists including Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning and Jeff Koons.

“There’s a symptom of spending at the moment in the arts and luxury areas,” said Jehan Chu, an adviser who runs Vermillion Art Collections in Hong Kong. “What we saw in the New York auctions, some people say it’s hard to understand what reality it’s based in. Will it spill over into Asia? Yes, there will be spectacular prices for the best works.”

The series of Hong Kong auctions started with Bonhams’s whisky and cognac sale today at the Island Shangri-La hotel, led by a bottle of Macallan Lalique 60-year-old. The bottle sold for HK$380,000 ($49,020) with fees, beating a hammer-price estimate of as much as HK$250,000.

The highlight of Bonhams four-day sale is a Leica Luxus II 1932 with faux-lizard-skin cover and a crocodile camera case carrying a high estimate of HK$9 million. It is one of only four made, according to the auction company.

Latour Collection

Christie’s starts on Nov. 22 with a three-day wine sale, led by a collection of 105 bottles of Chateau Latour spanning three centuries with a presale high estimate of HK$3 million at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

The company’s evening sale on Nov. 23 includes oil paintings by Chinese contemporary stars Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun, and 20th-century Chinese masters Zao Wou-Ki and Zhu Dequn, whose 1963 untitled abstract oil-on-canvas diptych carries a high estimate of HK$40 million.

An oil-on-canvas “Hospital Triptych No. 3,” measuring 1.5 meters (5 feet) by 3.45 meters painted in 1992 by Zeng Fanzhi, the world’s most expensive living Asian artist, is also in the sale. Christie’s has not given an estimate for the work, which carries a guarantee, and its international director of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Eric Chang, declined to provide one. A Hong Kong-based collector, who asked not to be named, said Christie’s gave him a figure of HK$100 million.

Diamonds, Vase

Other highlights of Christie’s series of sales, estimated to raise as much as HK$2 billion, include a diamond riviere consisting of 52 diamonds with a combined weight of 104.84 carats with a high estimate of HK$72 million, and an apple-green enameled “Dragon” lantern vase with a high estimate of HK$25 million.

Two Patek Philippe minute repeating perpetual calendar tourbillon wristwatches, one platinum, the other 18 carat gold, carry high estimates of HK$5 million.

Zachys of New York on Nov. 23 said it is featuring the largest collection of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wines ever offered at auction in a sale at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel estimated to fetch as much as HK$72 million.

On Nov. 24, Seoul Auction is holding its evening sale of western modern and contemporary art, with works by Marc Chagall, Damien Hirst and a 1982 oil-and-magna-on-canvas by Roy Lichtenstein titled “Tomato and Abstraction.”

Sotheby’s is holding an auction of Snuff Bottles from the Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII at its One Pacific Place gallery on Nov. 26.

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