Christie’s Offers $400 Million of Art, Wine and Handbags

Christie’s International Plc is offering about HK$3 billion ($387 million) worth of art, antiques, Romanee-Conti wine, jewelry and Hermes handbags in Hong Kong.

While buyers from mainland China still dominate Hong Kong sales, Christie’s is casting a wider net in search of affluent collectors from elsewhere in Asia with the modern and contemporary art offerings from Nov. 22 to 26.

“Chinese buyers are more low key these days, with China’s official austerity a factor,” said Jehan Chu, a Hong Kong-based art adviser who runs Vermillion Art Collections. “Christie’s is hoping to mint or mine the next ‘it’ contemporary auction artist for the East and Southeast Asian market.”

Christie’s and Sotheby’s hold multi-day sales twice a year in spring and autumn in Hong Kong, the largest auction center in the world after New York and London.

The five-day marathon at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center kicks off with wine sales on Nov. 22, lasting three days. The top lot is a 12-bottle case of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti’s Romanee-Conti 1988 with a high estimate of HK$1.6 million offered on Nov. 23.

The Asian 20th century and contemporary evening sale, considered a bellwether of overall demand, takes place on Nov. 22. It features works from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia alongside Chinese art.

Zhang Xiaogang

The top item in the 81-lot sale is an oil on canvas by Chinese-born painter Sanyu (1901-1966) titled “Bouquet de Roses Dans un Vase Blanc” (Roses in a White Vase) with a high estimate of HK$45 million.

Other highlights include a 1998 oil on canvas from Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi’s mask series with a high estimate of HK$28 million, and a 1994 portrait by Zhang Xiaogang for HK$24 million.

The sale also offers works from top-selling contemporary Southeast Asian artists including Ronald Ventura from the Philippines, I Nyoman Masriadi from Indonesia and Natee Utarit from Thailand, as well as modern works by Vietnamese painters Le Pho and Nguyen Phan Chanh and an installation by Korean artist Nam June Paik.

Louis Vuitton

Christie’s is offering for the first time in Hong Kong more than 120 luxury handbags from Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Bottega Veneta on Nov. 24. The most-coveted lot is a 2012 Hermes Matte Graphite Nilo Crocodile Birkin handbag with gold hardware with a high estimate of HK$450,000.

Another highly awaited item is an embroidered 15th century silk thangka depicting buddhist deities measuring 132 inches by 84 inches (3.35 meters by 2.1 meters) valued at HK$80 million for sale on Nov. 26.

Other auctioneers including Seoul Auction, Bonhams and Est-Ouest Auctions, Ravenel and Sotheby’s are holding sales of art, antiques and jewelry next week.

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