Christie’s Asian Art Week sales realised $332,783,188 (£272,497,754 / €312,222,516 / HK$2,573,500,630), the highest total ever achieved for the auction series, signalling Christie’s continuing leadership in the market. Seven auctions took place from 15-17 March, attracting bidders from 37 countries, with deep bidding from buyers in mainland China. Highlights of the sales included classical Chinese painting, huanghuali and zitan furniture, as well as archaic bronzes.
The week was led by the record-breaking evening sale Important Chinese Art from the Fujita Museum, which realised $262,839,500. Strong results were also witnessed for notable private collections, including The Marie Theresa L. Virata Collection of Asia, which totalled $25,352,750, with 95 per cent sold by lot; The Harris Collection: Important Early Chinese Art, which totalled $1,101,250, with 93 per cent sold by lot; and The Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles: Part IV, which totalled $841,668, with 100 per cent sold by lot.
Records were set across multiple categories. The top lot of the series was Chen Rong’s Six Dragons, from Important Chinese Art from the Fujita Museum, which sold for $48,967,500 and established a new record for a Chinese painting sold outside Asia. In the same sale, the world auction record for an archaic bronze was set when the bronze ritual wine vessel, fangzun, from the late Shang dynasty, sold for $37,207,500. In the Himalayan, Indian and South East Asian Art auction the world auction record for an Indian and South Asian work of art was achieved with the sale of a 900-year-old black stone figure of Lokanatha (Avalokiteshvara) from Pala-period India, which realized $24,663,500.
Highlights of the Marie Theresa L. Virata sale included a very rare 16th-17th century huanghuali circular incense stand, Xiangji, which sold for $5,847,500 / HK$ 45,193,037 against a high estimate of $600,000. A flambé-glazed vase, Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1795), which sold for $223,500, and an Imperial yellow-glazed cup, Yongzheng mark and of the period (1723-1735), which fetched $271,500, both had high estimates of $50,000.
Jonathan Stone, Chairman of Asian Art, commented: ‘This was an historic week for Christie’s and for Asian Art. There was an extraordinary response to the significant institutional and private collections included this season, with exceptional prices realised for Shang and Zhou dynasty ritual bronzes, classical Chinese paintings from the Fujita Museum, and the huanghuali and zitan furniture from the Virata collection.
‘It was rewarding to see the sustained enthusiasm from the international tour and exhibitions translate into the saleroom,’ Stone continued. ‘The robust results of this week have proven the benefits of Christie’s strong relationships with Asian buyers and the success of Christie’s dynamic strategy in the region, which has seen us open major exhibition spaces in Shanghai and Beijing in recent years.’
An online sale, The Art of China, continues until 29 March. A special sale for the spring season, it features more than 170 ceramics, jade and hardstone carvings, textiles, paintings, bronze and Buddhist sculptures from across the centuries. The sale also features a group of more than 30 Ming and Qing dynasty porcelains from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, being sold to benefit its art acquisitions fund. Estimates start from $400.