Week In Review: April 5-9

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 April 5-9.:

Blue-Chip Chinese Artists Crush Estimates In Hong Kong

Perhaps not surprisingly, Chinese collectors fought hard for works by artists who are rising in popularity in mainland China, such as Liu Ye, Cai Guo-Qiang, and Yue Minjun. However, other blue-chip Chinese artists, such as Wang Guangyi, Ai Weiwei, Zeng Fanzhi and Yan Pei-Ming proved extremely popular as well, with Wang’s “Passport (set of 30)” selling for US$1.08 million — the first time a piece by Wang has topped $1 million since 2007. The results of this auction indicate that the momentum noted at the autumn auctions in Hong Kong, then validated with contemporary auctions in London and New York, continues to gain speed, pushed by mainland Chinese collectors looking to diversify their investments.

Demand for quality works by Liu Ye proved exceptionally strong, with his 1995 painting “Bright Road” (#1 on Jing Daily’s “Top 10 Lots to Watch”) selling to super-collector Wang Wei for HK$19.14 million (US$2.46 million) — over four times its low estimate. All told, Liu was the third highest-grossing Chinese contemporary artist, taking in a total of HK$22,406,250 (US$2.88 million). Ahead of Liu in the top grossers category were Cai Guo-Qiang with HK$28.6 million (US$3.68 million) and Yue Minjun with HK$24.3 million (US$3.13 million). Yue Minjun remains very popular with collectors, with 100% of his works selling at this auction and his early work “On the Lake” selling for a whopping US$2 million.


Fancy A $1,000 Pot Of Tea? Head To Haikou

With its vast size and population, rapidly growing economy and often “Wild West” atmosphere, there’s no shortage of stories of Chinese excess in the Chinese- and English-language media.

This week, one of these stories, about a “leisure club” at a high-end hotel in Haikou, Hainan province, offering a suitably high-end pot of tea for 8,000 RMB (US$1,100) caught our eye. While we’re familiar with stories of cakes of Pu’erh tea selling at auction for tens of thousands of dollars, $1,000 a pot sounds incredible even for a flashy “leisure club” in one of China’s up-and-coming luxury playgrounds.

From the original Chinese-language article (translation by Jing Daily team):

Recently, a new leisure club at a hotel in Haikou brewed up an outrageously priced pot of tea: one costing upwards of 8,000 RMB, which has left people dumbstruck. Is this all just business hype, or is it really worth the price? Or is it just a status symbol for a small number of high-end consumers? Public opinion is mixed. Yesterday, this reporter visited the leisure club, which is considered the highest-quality and highest-priced in Haikou, to uncover the mysteries of this pricey tea.


“New Wave” Of Chinese Enterprises Sponsoring Art Exhibitions, Activities

Along with the rapid rise in prominence of mainland Chinese art collectors has been a more public interest among Chinese enterprises in sponsoring art exhibitions and arts activities. While we’ve seen art-business partnerships in China before, between companies like ING and the Shanghai Museum, only in the last year or so have we seen a stronger interest in arts sponsorship among home-grown Chinese companies and enterprises.

Today, the Global Times takes a lookat the “new wave” of Chinese enterprises that are looking to partner with arts organizations to organize and promote exhibitions and activities in China. As China.org.cn recently pointed out out, Minsheng Bank’s partnership with Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is the first of its kind in mainland China.

Many art experts and critics are optimistic about [business-art] cooperation, saying that it could go a long way in helping to resolve the shortage of financial resources facing many art organizations and independent artists today.

The allegiance causing the greatest sensation at the moment is the “business partnership” between Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), a landmark in the Chinese art world and Minsheng Art Museum, a soon-to-be-opened Shanghai-based art organization sponsored by Minsheng Bank.


Highlights Of Sotheby’s Record-Breaking Spring Auctions In Hong Kong

As Jing Daily has reported throughout the week, Sotheby’s spring auctions in Hong Kong have been a major success, continuing and increasing the momentum we saw there last autumn. Beginning with the fifth installment of the “Classic Cellar From A Great American Collector” wine series last Saturday and wrapping up today with Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, the auction series took in a record-breaking grand total ofHK$1,998,193,520 (US$256,178,656) — the highest-ever total for a Hong Kong auction series, and well above the pre-sale estimate of HK$1,301,722,000 (US$166,887,436).

As Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s senior director for China and Southeast Asia, told the Wall Street Journal, it appears that prices across all categories are on a “one-way elevator upward in [the Asian] market today,” with “extremely fierce” bidding seen among bidders.

According to Chow, a major factor in this week’s record-breaking bidding came down to “the entrance of mainland Chinese buyers,” not much of a surprise, since these buyers aredeveloping a reputation for going well above estimates for coveted items.


MINI Kicks Off “The Chinese Job” Promotional Event

Who can become the Chinese version of [Italian Job stars] Mark Wahlberg or Charlize Theron? The answer will be revealed at the large-scale “MINI Chinese Job” event. According to a BMW dealer in Chongqing, the general public can sign up immediately to take part in the event, as long as they hold a valid driver’s license and are at least 18 years of age. Contestants can register online, by text message, or by using the special phone hotline.

This week, MINI China kicked off its new promotional campaign, based around the famous car chase sequence from the 2003 remake of the 1969 film “The Italian Job.” The promotional initiative, “The Chinese Job,” began this week with heavily stylized animations on the MINI China website announcing that the automaker is currently recruiting for their “Chinese Job” driving challenge.

Over the course of the next four months, in 32 cities, trials will be held leading up to the finals in Chengdu. The winner of the national finals will be awarded unlimited use of the first special-edition John Cooper Works MINI to be sent to China.


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