Full Of Potential Collectors, Second-Tier Cities New Destination For Major Auction Houses
With the number of new millionaires and billionaires continuing to swell in second- and third-tier cities throughout inland China, it’s not only major automakers, luxury brands and wine merchants that are looking to cater to this wealthy and influential group. In the run-up of its March 31-April 3 Spring Auctions in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s will take a traveling exhibition of selected highlights from the wide-ranging series to three mainland Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai and — for the first time ever — Chengdu.
According to a company release, the choice to expand its traveling exhibitions to Chengdu is a natural response to growing connoisseurship and demand for art in China. As a new destination for Sotheby’s, the Chengdu exhibition will be limited to jewelry and watch highlights, while Beijing and Shanghai will host full exhibitions. As Kevin Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby’s Asia, pointed out, expanding the geographical scope of these pre-sale exhibitions is “just one among many new strategic initiatives tailored for China, the fastest growing art market in the world.”
Restricted to operating in Hong Kong — a limitation that has helped domestic Chinese auction houses like China Guardian and Beijing Poly grow by leaps and bounds in recent years — international auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have taken creative approaches to brand-building in mainland China. Of these, traveling exhibitions and art education programs have been some of the most effective, and as such Christie’s recently announced plans to take the traveling “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal” exhibition, the largest-ever Warhol exhibition to ever hit Asia, to China in 2013.
For its part, the traveling Sotheby’s exhibition is keen to attract more of China’s budding new collectors to Hong Kong by strategically promoting key lots in segments like contemporary and modern Chinese art, jewels and antiquities. Among the paintings set to take the stage are Zao Wou-Ki’s “25.06.86,” and an early “Bloodline – Big Family No. 2” by Zhang Xiaogang, both of which should see intense bidding by Hong Kong and mainland Chinese buyers. Also expected to attract a great deal of attention is an 8.01 carat Emerald-cut Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond and diamond ring, estimated to go for HK$90–110 million (US$11.5–14 million).