Week In Review: May 31-June 4

    In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of May 31-June 4.
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Jing Daily’s Top Posts For The Week#

    In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of May 31-June 4:

    A Buyer’s Frenzy In Hong Kong: Highlights From ART HK10, Christie’s And Ravenel

    Last week, Jing Daily covered the Hong Kong International Art Fair (ART HK10) and the Christie’s Spring Auctions in Hong Kong, both of which we expected to attract an impressive number of participants, artists, galleries and art collectors. Over the course of the weekend, anyone questioning whether the Chinese auction market’s red-hot recovery had any teeth had good reason to put those concerns to rest. Along with the Ravenel Spring Auction, which took place yesterday and took in a grand total of US$8,749,372, the figures that came out of the wide-ranging Christie’s Spring Auctions speak for themselves: – Chinese contemporary photography continuing to impress, with Hai Bo selling for double estimates, showing that Chinese collectors are becoming a force to be reckoned with in Chinese photography. – The “Finest and Rarest Wines” auction 94% sold by lot. (including the “Liquid Gold Collection” of Château d’Yquem, which sold for just over US$1.03 million — making it the most expensive wine lot ever sold by Christie’s globally.) – A large Zeng Fanzhi “Mask Series” piece sold for a whopping US$2.5 million, five times over its 2007 price, and contemporary pieces by artists like Yue Minjun and Zhang Xiaogang (who sold for over 3x high estimates) continued their upward momentum. – Several works by Zao Wou-Ki sold for a combined US$43 million. – The Mary and George Bloch Collection of rare Chinese snuff bottles sold 100% and achieved world record prices. – “String Quartet” by Chinese 20th Century artist Chen Yifei broke a world record, selling for HK$61.1 million/US$7.85 million. – A set of Andy Warhol “Mao” prints sold to a (likely mainland Chinese) phone bidder for almost US$1 million. Hong Kong’s auction market is clearly one of the most active and important in the world at the moment, and its internationalization has been surprisingly rapid and robust, even attracting a growing number of western collectors.

    Is Jade China’s Best Shot At Entering The Global Luxury Market?

    Late last year, Jing Daily looked at the resurgence in popularity of jade among contemporary high-end jewelry brands in China, pointing out that a new generation of ambitious home-grown Chinese designers are increasingly incorporating the precious stone into their collections. Despite jade’s often stodgy reputation and indifference among many younger Chinese — who still dream of draping their wrists in Cartier or Tiffany — among the more adventurous brands looking to create “luxury with Chinese characteristics” rather than ape predominantly western trends, jade is finding ever greater favor.

    Part of this is because of jade’s unique traits. Quite simply, jade (and its rarer and more expensive cousin, jadeite) has two things going for it that most precious metals or gems don’t. One is its long history. While most Chinese brands that are looking to establish themselves globally struggle with the issue of pedigree — mainland China was, after all, without any real “brands” for most of the 20th century, and had few to speak of in the pre-revolution era — jade has a built-in heritage of thousands of years, tied closely together with centuries of Chinese history. Though a Chinese jewelry brand may be less than 20 years old — or even less than five years old — giving jade a central role in its brand image can weave in a rich historical narrative that established diamond, gold or platinum-focused brands can’t match.

    Wine Auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit Sets New Asia Auction Record, Donates $400,000 To Great Wall Charity

    Following recent sell-out auctions, Hong Kong has become Asia’s virtually undisputed wine hub, serving as the transit point for auction houses and buyers from all over the region, particularly mainland China. With wine appreciation catching on in China over the past several years and picking up momentum, wine lovers and collectors — especially collectors — have sent wine prices soaring in Hong Kong, most notably for high-quality Bordeaux. To tap this growing demand, we’ve seen wine auctioneers large and small kick up their efforts to reach Chinese buyers over the past year, trying everything from video simulcasts to organizing large-scale wine festivals to get in on the action. This weekend, Acker Merrall & Condit — “America’s Oldest and Finest Wine Shop” – also got in on the game with a massive wine auction in Hong Kong, selling 97% of its more than 19,000 bottles and pulling in a grand total of US$19.5 million, well over its pre-sale estimate of $16 million.

    China’s Global Soft Power Ambitions Face Obstacles

    Over the past 20 years, the Chinese government has made the projection of international “soft power” a central priority, increasing investments in cultural initiatives like Confucius Institutes to promote the study of the Chinese language while engaging in “panda diplomacy,” “art diplomacy,” and even “terracotta diplomacy” in an attempt to win over the world.

    Despite the billions spent on bolstering the country’s soft power arsenal, however, interest in Chinese culture has lagged behind interest in the Chinese economy, leading some academics and social commentators in China to question what’s standing in the way of China’s soft power rivaling that of the United States.

    Shanghai #1 In Online Shopping

    This might not be much of a surprise, considering Shanghai is both China’s most populous city and its richest, but this week a Shanghai official, Sha Hailin (沙海林), announced that the city’s residents outspent the rest of the country on online shopping, parting ways with some 352 billion yuan (US$51.55 billion) last year. That’s up from an already-impressive 208 billion (US$30.5 billion) just four years ago. While some of this huge growth owes itself to a quantitative increase in Internet users, other factors such as a stronger yuan (for purchases from foreign vendors), a desire to sidestep China’s stiff luxury tax, and greater consumer spending power, are undoubtedly at play here.

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