New Chinese Collectors In Hong Kong Ready To Buy, Regardless Of Final Price
Over the weekend, Jing Daily kept a close eye on the Christie’s Hong Kong spring auctions, which continue through June 1. In addition to the much-reported Chateau Latour auction, which saw China’s emerging wine collectors snap up all 392 bottles for a grand total of HK$60 million (US$7.76 million), this weekend the art sales certainly gave many at Christie’s reason to be optimistic about Hong Kong’s relatively new, but already strong market.
At this weekend’s 20th Century and Contemporary Asian Art auction, Jing Daily’s pre-auction predictions were realized with the popularity of contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi and modernist painters like Zao Wou-Ki, and the willingness of Chinese collectors to go far beyond pre-sale estimates for a particular piece.
In many ways, the 20th Century and Contemporary Asian Art auction on May 28 was the Zao and Zeng show, with works by the two artists accounting for the top four most expensive lots, totaling US$20.4 million in all in a sale that ultimately pulled in $63 million. Also going with our pre-auction prediction, Zeng Fanzhi’s strong presence in Hong Kong this weekend seemed to only help him, as his “BEING” exhibition and painting “The Leopard” — auctioned off to benefit the non-profit environmental organization The Nature Conservency — further endeared him to collectors.
The last lot at the Christie’s Evening Sale of Asian Contemporary Art on May 28, “The Leopard” ultimately sold for HK$36 million (US$4.6 million) to the Chinese entrepreneur Zhao Zhijun, who plans to display the piece at his private museum in Beijing. According to François Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia, bidding was fierce for this particular piece, with “two determined collectors” battling it out until one, Zhao, came out on top.
As Zhao Zhijun said after the auction, “Zeng Fanzhi’s act of generosity is tremendously moving. I, like him, also wish to contribute in my own way to help protect the environment.”
In addition to the strong sales of artists like Zeng Fanzhi, Chinese collectors gravitated towards other blue-chip Chinese contemporary artists like Zhang Xiaogang, whose “Bloodline: Big Family – Father and Son” (2001) went for HK$28.7 million (US$3.7 million) — US$1 million over its high estimate — and Fang Lijun, whose “Series 1, No. 5” (1990) quadrupled estimates to bring in a whopping HK$21.9 million (US$2.8 million).