Artist Zhang Huan’s “Confucian” Wines Set Auction Record At Sotheby’s Hong Kong

Special Bottles Sell For $191,476 At Charity Auction

Zhang Huan for Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2009 (Image: Decanter)

Created by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Huan for the Tuscan winery Tenuta Dell ‘Ornellaia, this past weekend a series of Confucius-themed wines, part of the winemaker’s annual art project, sold for a total of US$191,476 at a charity auction hosted by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. Featuring a theme similar to “Q Confucius,” Zhang’s collaboration with Tenuta Dell ‘Ornellaia included, in all, 100 750 mL bottles and 10 one-liter bottles, along with a single nine-liter bottle onto which was fixed a one-of-a-kind oval-shaped portrait of Confucius. At the auction, notable lots included a set of 10 Imperials, purchased for $79,506, all of which will be donated to the H2 Foundation for Arts & Education.

As Tenuta Dell ‘Ornellaia CEO Giovanni Geddes, said last month, “Each year we commission a great artist to create works of art for our series, reflecting the characteristics of the wine itself and its vintage.” Geddes went on to note that this year’s release is particularly “balanced,” hence the Confucian imagery. As we previously pointed out, Zhang’s collaboration with Tenuta Dell ‘Ornellaia also goes beyond only labels, and includes a specially made steel sculpture of the ancient Chinese philosopher, which the winery has placed in its courtyard.

Though an ancient Chinese philosopher may seem a strange fit for Italian wine, Zhang Huan explained, “Confucius thinks people should find their own position and move forward instead of disturbing the natural order of things and going overboard…The theory of harmony between man and nature tells us to respect nature in order to establish a world of equilibrium where we can live together peacefully and happily.”
Though this was Zhang Huan’s first collaboration with a winemaker, it wasn’t the first for a Chinese artist. In 2010, the blue-chip Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun worked with Ruinart on a limited-edition champagne bottle designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hong Kong retailer JOYCE, and painter Xu Lei was commissioned by Château Mouton Rothschild to createa special edition label for its 2008 vintage.

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