A strong showing by Asian buyers—especially from China—helped Christie’s Hong Kong Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art evening sale set its second-highest sales record on Saturday.
With sales of 89 percent of the 81 lots available spanning artists across Asia, the auction brought in US$82 million and set two Chinese artist records. Christie’s continued strong sales in Hong Kong are supported in large part by Chinese collectors, who are growing in ranks as China’s wealthy population expands and develops an increasingly avid interest in art investment. A total of nine out of the top 10 buyers at the sale were Asian, and prominent mainland buyers scooped up a diverse range of Asian works. For example, Wang Wei, the owner of Shanghai’s Long Museum and prominent collector of both Chinese and international art, purchased Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga’s Kaien for an above-estimate price of US$3,061,380.
The significant Chinese buyer presence also meant that Chinese contemporary artists dominated the sale, taking up 10 of the top 12 lots. While French-Chinese painters led the top four spots on the list, works by top mainland artist Zeng Fanzhi were also leaders. The top lot of the evening was French-Chinese master Sanyu’s Pot de pivoines (Potted Peonies), which sold for US$7,267,540. Sanyu claimed the second-place spot of the auction as well, and was followed by works by Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun in third and fourth.
Both of Zeng Fanzhi’s lots in the auction made the top lots list—his Mask Series sold for $3,352,876 (within its estimate of $2.9 to $3.6 million), while Mask Series 2001 sold for $2,337,167 (within an estimate of $2 to $3.2 million). Zeng currently holds the record for the most expensive piece of Chinese contemporary art ever sold at auction for his Last Supper piece sold in October 2013.
Additional Chinese contemporary highlights of the evening include Zhang Xiaogang’s Portrait with Grey Background, which sold within estimates at $2,259,434, and Bloodline: Big Family Series, which also came within its estimate at $1,202,268. Liu Wei’s Untitled beat its high estimate of $1 million with a sale of more than $1.9 million, while Zhang Huan’s Family Tree photo series also sold for more than triple its high estimate.
“To date, the sale was one of the strongest showings we have had for Asian art across geographies, from Southeast to North Asia,” says Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Asia and International Director of Christie’s Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Department Eric Chang. “20th century Chinese masters like Sanyu continue to be highly sought after. It is encouraging to see that great Asian art continues to resonate with art lovers everywhere, with interest growing among a younger generation of collectors.”