In 1973 Sothebys
became the first international auction house in Asia, establishing both an office and holding an inaugural auction in Hong Kong. To mark the 40th Anniversary of this pioneering move, a series of events will be held this autumn culminating in a 40th Anniversary Evening Sale on 5th October 2013. The celebrations come as Sothebys expands its presence in Asia with a new state-of-the-art gallery and retail spaces in Hong Kong and the start of regular sales in Beijing. Over the past four decades, Sothebys has played a key role in Asias rise as one of the worlds most vibrant art markets, and this fascinating story is told through an innovative series of 40 short videos one released each day for the 40 days leading up to, including and immediately following the auction - as well as through a limited edition book that profiles and gives voice to the leading collectors in this arena.
The 40 Days I 40 Stories videos provide engaging, surprising and frequently humorous accounts of key moments in Sothebys first four decades in Asia. Memorable sales are revisited using archival footage and evocative period photos, while the specialists who know the market best reveal behind-the-scenes anecdotes from these historic occasions. In addition, a lavishly illustrated commemorative book, entitled Sotheby's 40 Years in Asia, will be published in October. Told from the perspectives of 63 key collectors, dealers, and Sothebys specialists, the book is an extraordinary account of the vast changes in Asias art market.
Sothebys Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale to be held on 5th October 2013 will bring together important pieces of 20th Century Chinese Art, Contemporary Asian Art, and Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art. It is set to have the highest total estimate of any comparable sale in Asia. More than 60 modern and contemporary Asian works will be offered including pieces by eminent artists such as Wang Yidong, Chu Tehchun, Zeng Fanzhi, Liu Ye, Walter Spies, and Ronald Ventura, among many others. The evening will be led by a remarkable group of seven museum quality works by modern Chinese masters from A Distinguished Private Collection (est. over HK$211 million / US$27.1 million), featuring highly important paintings in oil by Zao Wou-ki, Sanyu, and Wu Guanzhong.
Over the past four decades Sothebys Hong Kong has continuously innovated to expand its offerings and engage new clients. Since the initial sale in November 1973 of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art that was overseen by Julian Thompson, the renowned scholar of Chinese Ceramics, Sothebys has expanded the categories sold in Asia with Jadeite Jewellery added in 1985, 20th Century Chinese Paintings in 1992, Western Jewellery in 1995, Watches in 1998, Contemporary Chinese Art in 2008, and Wine in 2009.
The past 40 years have seen many landmark sales such as The Edward T. Chow Collection of Ming and Qing Porcelain in 1980, and An Outstanding Imperial Carved Zitan Dragon Throne, Qianlong Period that sold for HK$85,780,000 / $11,068,193, setting a world record for any piece of Chinese furniture at auction in 2009, Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite in 2010 which included a 6.04-carat Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Ring which sold for HK$61,927,500 / US$7,981,835, setting a new world record price per carat for any gemstone at auction at the time, Masterpieces of Qing Imperial Porcelain from J.T. Tai & Co in 2010, and Lafite Ex-Cellars in 2010 which set a world record for a standard-sized bottle of wine when a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild 1869 sold for HK$1.8 million / US$230,000.
In September 2012, Sotheby's became the first international auction house be granted a license to conduct auctions in China. Sothebys Beijing is run by Wen Guihua, the deputy director of the Art Professional Committee, a subsidiary of China Association of Auctioneers, and the head of Beijing Association of Auctioneers for more than ten years. Previously Sothebys was the first international auction house to offer services in China, opening an office in Shanghai in 1994 and in Beijing in 2007. It was also the first international auction house to hold auctions in China with The Return of Marco Polo Auction in the Forbidden City, taking place in June 1988.