HONG KONG.- Christies
concluded its Spring season with a total of HK$4bn (US$515m), including the off-season sale of fine wines in March and April, the Spring sale series from 27 May to 1 June, and the Beijing sales by Christies brand licensee in China - Forever. This represents the highest season total for Christies in Asia, which is a 68% increase over the same period a year ago and 17% over the second half of 2010 (HK$3.4bn/US$440m). These results indicate the continued growth in the breadth and depth of collecting interest, and reaffirm Hong Kong as a leading centre in the global art market.
Strong bidding with moments of passionate enthusiasm was the hallmark of the week of Spring auctions in Hong Kong. With two standing-room-only salerooms operating concurrently from 10 a.m. to late in the evening, sparkling prices were obtained for Asian and Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary art, Chinese Ceramics & Works of art, Chinese Classical and Modern Paintings & Calligraphy, Jewelry, Watches and Wine. With sales up 65% over the same period last year, the growth of the art market in Asia is greater than anywhere in the world. This is due to the strength of the economy in the region and also to the great appetite of Asian collectors for Works of Art of the finest quality, said François Curiel, President of Christies Asia.
As Asian buyers continue to drive the sales, intensive bidding resulted in prices going well over their estimates across all categories, and sharp increases in sales totals from 2010. In the May/June sales, 36 auction records were achieved across the range of categories, with private collections being particularly sought-after by sophisticated buyers.
Strong Chinese buying continues to fuel Christies sales, with Greater China clients (from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong) contributing to70% of the total sale value of Christies auctions this season.
In addition to traditional Chinese art categories such as Chinese Paintings, where 91% of buyers were from Greater China, luxury categories such as Wine, Jewelry and Watches also saw a high proportion of buyers from that region. Jewelry, for example, saw an increase in Greater China buyers from 67% in Autumn 2010 to 72% in Spring 2011.
International participation also remains strong, especially in Watches where internet bidding from Christies real-time bidding service (Christies LIVETM) accounted for 25% of the total bidding and sales from clients in 21 countries from Europe, South America, Asia, North America, UK and the Middle East, the highest proportion of sales completed online at Christies Hong Kong.
Forever, the brand licensee of Christies in China, recorded the best season sale results in its six-year history, achieving RMB180m (US$28m) from its Spring 2011 series of sales in Beijing. The four Forever sale categories were Chinese Paintings, Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Chinese 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Chinese Liquor.