World’s Most Expensive Sunflower Seeds Sell For $560,000, Triple High Estimate, In London

100 Kg Bag Of Ai Weiwei’s “Kui Hua Zi” (Sunflower Seeds), On Display At Tate Turbine Hall, Sells At Sotheby’s

Ai Weiwei's "Kui Hua Zi" (Sunflower Seeds)

Ai Weiwei’s “Kui Hua Zi” (Sunflower Seeds)

The presence of new Chinese collectors, both in person and over the phone, was felt yesterday at Sotheby’s in London, where the Beijing-based artist (and asteroid namesake) Ai Weiwei sold well over high estimates alongside international artists like Andy Warhol, Juan Muñoz, and Franz Gertsch. A 100 kilogram bag of Ai’s “Sunflower Seeds,” which are currently on display at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London, sold for £349,250 (US$560,476), nearly three times its high estimate of £120,000, to an anonymous bidder. As the Art Newspaper points out, the influence of increased Asian bidding continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary art world:

A young Asian private buyer, sitting at the back of the saleroom, bought Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup Box, 1986, for £445,250 (est £350,000-£450,000). After the sale, Sotheby’s said that Asian buying accounted for 11% of the evening sale, which included buyers from 12 countries in total.

As for Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds, three telephone bidders competed for the 220-pound lot. With its final sale price of $560,476, Sotheby’s calculated that the anonymous buyer paid around £3.50 (or $5.60) per seed.

However, considering Ai Weiwei recently shared the top spot on ArtTactic’s long-term Chinese artist longevity indicator with Cai Guo-Qiang, this is probably a good investment indeed.


Art & Design, Market Analysis