After an exciting week of exhibitions, previews and auctions at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Christie’s Autumn 2018 auction season closed having totalled HK$2.75 billion ($353 million). An exceptional selection of Chinese paintings, Chinese ceramics and works of art, Asian 20th century and contemporary art, as well as jewellery, watches, wine and handbags were offered, which produced a number of records.
In Beyond Compare: A Thousand Years of the Literati Aesthetic, which realised HK$717,310,000 (just over $92 million) and was 99 per cent sold by value, Su Shi’s Wood and Rock, a 1,000-year-old masterpiece, sold for HK$463,600,000 ($59.5 million, including buyer’s premium). In doing so it became the most expensive object ever sold by Christie’s in Asia; the previous record was held by an Imperial embroidered silk thangka, which sold for HK$348.4 million in 2014.
The second-highest price of the week was achieved with The Peacock Necklace, which sold for HK$116,537,500 / $14,959,869, a world record for a Kashmir sapphire necklace.
Zao Wou-Ki’s 22.07.64, which sold for HK$115,975,000 in the Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, achieved the third-highest price, with applause breaking out in the saleroom at the end of a prolonged bidding battle for a painting that will be be included in the artist’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné.
Sales of Asian 20th-century and contemporary art totalled HK$664,889,250 / $85,342,606 across four sales, with auction records being set for artists such as Rhee Seundja, Mai Trung Thu, Yohei Yama, Yu Chengyao, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kim Sungsoo, Rhaomi, Ryota Nishioka, Oh Sun-Yong, Qin Qi and Gao Weigang.
Another notable highlight was the extremely rare Ru ware sky blue ‘tea bowl’, one of fewer than 100 pieces of Ru ware that survive intact today, which realised HK$56,350,000 in the Beyond Compare auction. The very next lot offered in the sale, an important Longquan celadon ‘kinuta vase’, achieved HK$42,850,000 — a new world auction record for a Longquan celadon ceramic.
As well as the Peacock Necklace, other notable results in the Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale, which realised HK$470,215,000 ($60.3 million), included ‘The Moon of Baroda’ diamond. This 24.04-carat Fancy Yellow VS2 diamond necklace was previously worn by Marilyn Monroe, and fetched HK$10,300,000 ($1.3 million) — more than double its low estimate.
Three pieces shared top billing in the Important Watches sale — an extremely rare platinum, limited-edition split seconds chronograph tourbillon by A. Lange & Söhne; a limited-edition Invention Piece 2 by Greubel Forsey in 18k pink gold; and a rare Patek Philippe reference 3979. All three sold for HK$2,980,000, contributing to a total of HK$102,396,250 ($13.1 million) — 84 per cent sold by lot and 83 per cent by value.
The Fine and Rare Wines auction realised HK$38,599,628 ($4.9 million), with sell-through rates of 88 per cent by lot and 95 per cent by value. The collection of century-old Madeira, vintages from Kloster Eberbach and Van Volxem, and the South African wines were all 100 per cent sold. From the latter, a six-bottle lot of Vilafonté Series ‘M’ 2007 achieved HK$13,475 ($1,730), the highest price it has ever recorded at auction.
In the Handbags & Accessories sale, a rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Retourné Kelly 28 with palladium hardware came out on top, selling for HK$1,625,000 in an auction that totalled HK$43,127,500 ($5.5 million) — 92 per cent sold by lot and 95 per cent by value.
Almost half of all the Chinese paintings offered across three live sales, plus those offered in the Beyond Compare curated sale, exceeded their high estimates. The Fine Chinese Modern Paintings sale totalled HK$325,875,000, with the highest price being achieved by Red Lotus and Mandarin Ducks by Zhang Daqian (HK$58,600,000 / $7,522,457).
Fine Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy achieved HK$138,120,000/ $17,730,405, with the top lot being an anonymous work previously attributed to Chen Rong from the 13th-14th century, which realised HK$20,500,000 / $2,631,576.
Ama Dablam by Liu Kuo-Sung led the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale, which achieved HK$19,567,500/ US$2,511,872 and was 86 per cent sold by value. Our online sale, Exquisite Eye: Chinese Paintings, was 182 per cent sold by value for a total of HK$5,403,750/ $693,604 — almost double the low estimate.
During the week, Christie’s held three dedicated sales for Chinese ceramics and works of art — Chinese Archaic Jades from the Yangdetang Collection Part II; Multifarious Colours — Three Enamelled Qianlong Masterpieces; and Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. Works were also featured in the multi-category Beyond Compare evening sale, producing a combined total for the category of HK$407,302,000 ($52.3 million).
The top lot in the Yangdetang Collection sale was a rare carved jade ‘Dragon’ ring, which realised HK$7,900,000 (just over $1 million), while in the Multifarious Colours auction, an exceptionally rare Yangcai ‘Hundred Deer’ blue-handled vase sold for HK$45,100,000 ($5.8 million). In Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, which totalled HK$151,357,500 / $19,433,713, an extremely rare set of 12 blue and white ‘Month’ cups was bought for HK$36,100,000 ($4.6 million).
In addition to the top prices and auction records, it was a week of firsts, with The Meiji Aesthetic: Selected Masterpieces from a Private Asian Collection being the first auction Christie’s had staged in Asia for these Japanese artworks. The sale totalled HK$16,512,500 ($2.1 million), with a world record being set for a jizai (articulated sculpture).
In Christie’s first Asian sale of Gold Boxes, meanwhile, a Swiss jewelled enamelled musical gold snuff-box with automaton by Guidon, Gide & Blondet fils sold for HK$2,250,000 (almost $289,000), almost three times its low estimate.