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Christie's Hong Kong Spring Auctions: 2nd Highest Total Ever with Sales Topping US$293.6 Million
Top quality Western contemporary art also proved to be in high demand when Andy Warhol's Mao sold well over the high estimate for HK$6.62 million (US$850,008), the first work by a Western artist to be offered in Christie’s Hong Kong Evening Sale. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.

HONG KONG.- Christie's concluded its six-day Spring sales with strong results that confirm the key position of Hong Kong as a major centre in the art and auction world and reaffirms Christie's dominant position in Asia. Totalling HK$2.29 billion (US$294 million) -- a 114% increase from Spring 2009 and a 39% increase from Autumn 2009 -- this sale marks Christie's second most valuable Hong Kong sale ever, just after its Spring 2008 sale at the peak of the market (HK$2.4 billion/US$311 million). With over 50 world records, and with two 'white glove' (100% sold) auctions, this season’s sale confirms the health of the Asian art market and the desire of Asian collectors to pursue the rarest and the best across different collecting categories.

"The art market in Asia is healthier than ever,” said François Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia. “The buzz in Hong Kong at the time of the auctions was like I have never seen before, with collectors from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and around Asia competing for the finest works the market had to offer. While the rest of the economy is still recovering around the world, there does not seem to be any sign of a slowdown in the art market in Asia,” he continued.

Songde Tang Collection of Chinese Modern Paintings
Fine Chinese Modern Paintings
Friday, May 28

The Fine Chinese Classical Paintings, The Songde Tang Collection of Chinese Modern Paintings, and the Fine Chinese Modern Paintings sales on the first day of Christie's Hong Kong Spring 2010 sales realised a combined total of HK$426,685,250 (US$54,786,386) – the highest ever achieved by any auction house in Hong Kong. The sales were 70% sold by value and 82% sold by lot, with the top lot - Birds and Flowers by Chinese classical painter, Hua Yan – selling for HK$19,140,000 (US$2,457,576/£1,688,148).

The day’s total value of HK$426.7 million (US$54.8 million) – the highest ever achieved by the category for any auction house in Hong Kong – marks a 20% increase over Christie’s Fall 2009 sales in November and reflects the continued appeal of, and the healthy market for, the Chinese Paintings category.

The strong results posted in the sale of Songde Tang Collection, a notable private collection showcasing the best of works by the masters of early 20th century China, underscore the continued allure of important works coupled with notable provenance. This collection was 95% sold by lot, 99% sold by value, and its total of HK$95.7 million was nearly three times its pre-sale estimate.

Strong Chinese buying was seen throughout the sales. Mainland Chinese buyers accounted for nearly three-quarters of the day’s total value. There was particularly strong demand from collectors for very best works offered, resulting in many lots soaring over their high estimates - Leng Mei's The Young Hercules (sold for HK$16.9 million/US$2.16 million) and Qi Baishi's Amaranth, Crickets, Persimmon and Peaches (sold for HK$10.6 million/US$1.36 million), each sold for multiples of their estimates.

Finest & Rarest Wines
Including the Liquid Gold Collection – Three Centuries of D’Yquem
Saturday, May 29

The Spring 2010 sale of Finest & Rarest Wines realized a record HK$40.3 million (US$5,173,590) – the highest total ever for a Christie’s wine auction in Asia. The star of the sale was the Liquid Gold Collection, a unique collection of Château d'Yquem vintages spanning three centuries which realise just over HK$8million, making it not only the most expensive wine lot ever sold at any auction in Asia, but also the most expensive wine lot ever sold globally by Christie’s.

Christie’s average lot value of HK$119,000 remains the season’s highest for any auction house operating in Asia and is more than double its primary competitor, underscoring Christie’s unwavering commitment to offering a selection of wines that stands apart from the competition with its focus on provenance, quality, and condition.

While the sale saw the continued growth in bidding activity on top Bordeaux First Growth, other notable results were achieved for classic Burgundies, Rhone, Champagne and a wide range of the greatest wines from Italy and Spain, indicating a growing Asian interest for the finest wines from a diverse range of countries.

Buyers from Greater China continue to compete at a very high level in Christie’s sale of wine around the world and were out in force in this particular sale. The day saw buyers from America, Europe and throughout Asia, with Mainland Chinese buyers accounting for the largest buying value of any country.

Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese 20th Century Art Evening Sale
Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale & Chinese 20th Century Art Day Sale
Saturday, May 29- Sunday May 30

The Evening and Day sales of Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese 20th Century Art realised a combined total of HK$523.4 million (US$67.2 million), an increase of 85% over the category total just one year ago in Spring 2009, and nearly double the season total of the nearest international competitor.

The series began with the Evening Sale of Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese 20th Century Art that totalled HK$303 million (US$39 million) - three times over the estimate. With 100% lots sold, this is the first “white glove” auction for any Evening Sale in Asia. The momentum of the Evening Sale carried into the highly successful Day Sales that began in the early afternoon and lasted late into the night.

Leading the season’s selection of Chinese 20th Century Art was Chen Yifei's String Quartet in the Evening Sale, which broke a new auction record at HK$61.1 million (US$7.9 million). Works by Chinese modern artist Zao Wou-ki dominated the top lots in both the Evening Sale and Day Sale. And indeed, the successful sale of all seventeen works offered, which spanned his half-century career, demonstrates that this celebrated master stands as one of the most highly sought-after artists today.

The collection of Chinese Contemporary Art of Lawrence and Kathy Schiller of Southern California, led by Zeng Fanzhi's Mask Series which nearly doubled its high estimate to sell for HK$ 19.7 million (US$ 2.5 million), totalled HK$31.7 million (US$4.06 million). A portion of the proceeds has been donated to benefit the Animals Asia Foundation.

Looking across the wide spectrum of Asian Contemporary art offered this season, Chinese, Japanese and Korean art all posted impressive prices. Numerous records were broken, including works by Japanese artists Tomoko Konoike and Akira Yamaguchi, Korean artist Lee Jae Sam, and Chinese artists Ding Yi and Yu Youhan. Conversely, top quality Western contemporary art also proved to be in high demand when Andy Warhol's Mao sold well over the high estimate for HK$6.62 million (US$850,008), the first work by a Western artist to be offered in Christie’s Hong Kong Evening Sale.

With Asian buyers winning many of the lots among strong international bidding, it is clear that collectors in the region are more diverse than ever before, and that the Hong Kong art market has now firmly established itself as a formidable hub for modern and contemporary art. Beyond the exceptional participation from Asian collectors, this season also saw an ever-growing number of international participants, with buyers from Norway, Switzerland, Germany, France, Israel, the UK and the US, many of whom bid online through Christie's LIVE.

The Chinese modern masters remain particularly strong and highly sought-after by collectors again this season. Indeed, the Chinese 20th Century Art Day Sale’s total of HK$105 million marks a 14% increase over the sale total posted at the height of the market in Spring 2008.

This season’s results also point to a recovery in the prices of the Asian contemporary art market as average lot value in the Asian Contemporary Art Day Sale rose 10% over the Fall 2009 season and a total of 25 new artist records were set.

Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art
Sunday, May 30

The Spring 2010 sale of Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art totalled HK$44.5million (US$5.7 million), a 33% increase over the Fall 2009 total. More than 10 new artist records were set for established and emerging artists in both the modern and contemporary sections, including the top lot, Italian paintertraveller Romualdo Locatelli’s Bali picture, Young Balinese Girl with Hibiscus, which broke all previous records when it sold for HK$6.02million (US$773,000). The extremely rare and early work from Fernando Cueto Amorsolo, Lavenderas, sold for a resounding HK$3.38million (US$434,000), a new world auction record for the artist.

The results of this sale demonstrate clear depth in the Southeast Asian art market. New auction records were achieved by private and institutional buyers for the works of Indonesian artist Handiwirman Saputra and Filipino Geraldine Javier, whose Ella amo' apasionadamente y fue correspondida (For she loved fiercely, and she is well-loved) sold for nearly ten times its estimate. Indonesian I Nyoman Masriadi cements his place as the top contemporary artist of this market, with all four works by the artist in the sale’s top ten results. Bidding was also competitive on key modern works, resulting in two new auction records and strong prices on Indonesian, Filipino and Vietnamese works.

Nearly two-thirds of the sale sold for above the high estimate, and a total of 13 lots sold for over HK$1million, pointing to a clear appreciation of modern masterworks alongside invigorated bidding for quality contemporary lots from a broad Asian demographic. Compared to the sale total a year ago, this sale marks a 118% increase, and a resurgence of the Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art market.

Important Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Songzhutang Collection, Part II
The Imperial Sale
Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Monday, May 31

The Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Spring auctions totaled HK$673.3 million (US$ 86.5 million). The day opened with the Songzhutang Collection of important rhinoceros horn carvings which totalled HK$237 million (US$30.4 million) – over seven times its pre-sale low estimate - and at 100% sold became the second ‘white glove’ auction of Christie’s Spring 2010 auction week..

The Imperial Sale, Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art that followed totalled HK$436.4 million (US$56 million), nearly double the pre-sale estimate. The highlight of the sale, a magnificent early Ming gilt-bronze Buddha from the Xuande period, doubled its unpublished pre-sale estimate to sell for a record HK$70.1 million (US$9 million). Also breaking a new auction record was the jadeite tripod censer and cover which more than tripled its pre-sale estimate when it sold for HK$34.3 million (US$4.4 million).

The strong results from Part II of the Songzhutang Collection of important rhinoceros horn carvings reflects the demand for top quality works in what is still a relatively new collecting category. This celebrated private collection, the finest known in private hands, was passionately assembled by a connoisseur over the span of 30 years. Following the successful sale by Christie’s in May 2008 of Part I of the collection, this season’s offering of Part II of this much-respected collection attracted tremendous pre-sale interest from collectors around the world. Brisk bidding in the room, on the telephone and online through Christie’s LIVE resulted in 6 lots selling for over US$1 million. The top two lots of the sale each realized a world record price of HK$39.9 million (US$5.12 million) - establishing a new benchmark in this collecting category. These precious carvings, traditionally highly prized among Chinese collectors, were hotly contested by a wide range of clients in the region and sold for many multiples of their high estimates.

Nearly half of all lots sold in the Imperial Sale, Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction sold above their high estimate. As in the sale of the Songzhutang Collection, there was energetic bidding in a standing-room only auction hall, where a bank of 20 auction house representatives were manning phones with international clients and numerous bids were received online through Christie’s LIVE. Buyers were both established and new clients to Christie’s, primarily from Greater China, but with a significant percentage of the sale selling to clients from Europe and North America. Imperial ceramics, jades and Buddhist sculptures were the most sought-after collecting sub-categories in the various-owner sale.

Christie's | François Curiel | Hong Kong Spring Auctions |

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