Crocodile Bags, Romanee-Conti, Gutai Art Lead $270 Million Sale

Christie’s International Plc is offering about HK$2.1 billion ($271 million) worth of art, Romanee-Conti wine, a pink diamond and crocodile Hermes handbags in Hong Kong.

The five-day marathon at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center kicks off with wine sales Saturday, featuring the top lot of a 12-bottle case of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti’s Romanee-Conti 1988 with a high estimate of HK$1.6 million.

It’s followed by the Asian 20th century and contemporary sale at 6 p.m. The evening sale has evolved from featuring contemporary Chinese art to showcasing modern artists from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, reflecting a shift in buying power away from China. Conspicuously absent from the offering are paintings by Zhang Xiaogang, who headlined sales a few years ago.

Instead, Christie’s is casting a wider net in search of affluent collectors by featuring works of Japanese artists from the post-war Gutai movement, including abstract works by Shozo Shimamoto (1928-2013) and Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2000), whose most expensive work has a high estimate of HK$15 million.

“People are mining history to find value,” said Hong Kong-based art adviser Jehan Chu who runs Vermillion Art Collections. “Safe money is going to older artists with critical track records but underdeveloped markets.”

The top item in the 94-lot sale is an oil on canvas by Chinese-born painter Sanyu (1901-1966) titled “Chrysanthemums in a Glass Vase,” which is expected to sell for about HK$80 million.

Second Sale

On June 1, Christie’s will hold its second luxury handbag sale, with 366 lots, triple the number offered during its inaugural auction in November.

The two most expensive items, Porosus Crocodile Diamond Birkin bags, one fuchsia, the other black, have high estimates of HK$1.5 million each.

The June 2 jewelry sale is led by a Harry Winston ring with a 9.07 carat fancy intense pink diamond. It has a high estimate of HK$120 million.

The final day features Chinese ceramics and works of art, furniture and watches. The most expensive timepiece on sale is a signed, 18 carat pink gold Patek Philippe wristwatch.

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