The Autumn 2017 auction season at Christie’s in Hong Kong — 18 sales covering Asian 20th-century and contemporary art, Chinese works of art and paintings, Impressionist and Modern art, jewellery, watches, wine and handbags — totalled HK$3.43 billion.
Leading the five-day series was the Pink Promise, a 14.93 carat fancy Vivid Pink diamond, which achieved HK$249,850,000 / $32,163,932 in the Magnificent Jewels and Pink Promise sale on 28 November. The diamond became the most expensive jewel ever sold by Christie’s in Asia, matching the world-record price per carat for a pink diamond, which was set at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2009. Across all the sales, four lots realised over HK$200 million.
The week got off to a strong start when Zao Wou-Ki’s masterpiece 29.01.64 achieved HK$202,600,000 / $26,063,431 in the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, setting a new world record for an oil painting by any Asian artist (you can watch the video of the auction below). Overall, the auction totalled HK$604,522,500 / $77,768,660, and was 82 per cent sold by lot.
On 26 November, the Asian 20th Century Art Day Sale totalled HK$115,676,250 / $ 14,881,145. Leading the sale was Natsuyuki Nakanishi’s L l R - 87 – I, which realised HK$5,740,000 / $738,421. Across the Asian Contemporary Art Evening and Day sales, the 14 offered works by Yoshitomo Nara were 100 per cent sold.
Christie’s first dedicated sale of Impressionist art in Asia, Dear Monsieur Monet, realised HK$85,460,000 / $10,993,982, more than doubling its low estimate. All 54 lots were sold, with over 90 per cent of new buyers coming from Asia.
Leading the sale was Claude Monet’s Falaises des Petites-Dalles, which more than tripled its low estimate, realising HK$36,100,000 / $4,644,076. The same artist’s Trois arbres à Giverny (Peupliers) doubled its low estimate, selling for HK$31,300,000 / $4,026,581.
Competitive bidding was seen for woodblock prints from the artist’s personal collection, led by two prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), which realised more than 20 times the low estimate (HK$300,000 / $38,593). Strong results were also seen for Monet’s personal memorabilia: a pair of spectacles sold for more than 40 times the low estimate (HK$400,000 / $51,457).
‘The energy during the worldwide preview and in the auction room once again confirms Monet's magic aura,’ said Adrien Meyer, Co-Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s. ‘The strong results of this inaugural sale in Hong Kong also validate the appetite of the Asian market for Impressionism.’
This season also saw the inauguration of the first ever evening sales dedicated to Ming-dynasty works. Important Ming Imperial Works of Art from the Le Cong Tang Collection, and Court, Studio, Atelier: Chinese Works of Art and Paintings from the Ming Dynasty together realised HK$325,145,000/ $41,828,204.
Leading the Ming dynasty sales was a wucai ‘fish’ jar and cover from circa 1522-66, which sold for HK$213,850,000/ $27,510,684 (see video, above). The extremely rare piece perfectly embodied the ‘innovative techniques and new perspectives’ for which Ming-era production is known, said Chi Fan Tsang, Head of Asian Art at Christie’s in Hong Kong.
On 27 November, Christie’s Important Watches sale achieved HK$88,349,375 / $11,365,685, selling 84 per cent by lot and 87 per cent by value. The top lot, a Patek Philippe Platinum Minute Repeating Instantaneous Perpetual Calendar Tourbillion wristwatch, achieved HK$4,540,000 / $584,047. In the inaugural evening session, a Rolex stainless-steel chronograph wristwatch with ‘Paul Newman Panda Dial’ more than doubled its low estimate before realising HK$3,940,000 / $506,860.
A total of HK$838,480,00 / $107,917,593 was achieved across all four Chinese painting auctions, with 55 per cent of lots sold above their high estimate. The top lot, Fu Baoshi’s The Song of the Pipa Player, realised HK$204,850,00 0/ $26,370,948 (watch video, below).
The season ended on an extremely strong note with the auctions of Chinese Archaic Jades from the Yangdetang Collection, Important Chinese Ceramics from The Dr. James D. Thornton Collection and Imperial Qing Monochromes from The J. M. Hu Collection, which were all 100 per cent sold by lot and value.
'The force of Asian buying was on full display this week,' said Rebecca Wei, President of Christie's Asia, 'as collectors pursued masterpieces across all our categories, propelling iconic artists to new levels. The results further prove that Asia, and in particular Hong Kong, is now an international hub, convening top collections from across the globe.'