My first walk around — Wednesday afternoon, 25 November
Left: Francois explores the salesrooms at Christie’s Hong Kong. Right: A Prime Ministerial Red Morocco Dispatch Box 1980-90. Estimate: £3,000-5,000. This piece is offered in Mrs Thatcher — Property from the Collection of the Right Honourable the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS on 15 December at Christie’s London
This was just like checking out a new home. On an initial walk around Christie’s Hong Kong, I saw two salesrooms, watched 14 auctions being set up, visited the private sales area, and met colleagues in their offices. I also visited an exhibition of international highlights, where I saw pieces from our upcoming Margaret Thatcher sale — I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to carry the famous red leather case marked Prime Minister! Other exhibitions included our retrospective of jewellery designer Wallace Chan, and a display of seven rare violins and a cello by makers Stradivari and del Gesù — later played by virtuosos.
The meeting before the auction — Friday morning, 27 November
François presents the service award to Ben Kong, at Christie’s for 25 years
Our all-staff get-together joined over 200 Christie’s colleagues from across Asia, Europe and America — a wonderful opportunity to see people and catch up before the Hong Kong auctions began. Perhaps because I am the oldest (!) I was asked to present our awards for long service — those honoured this year were Tim Triptree (10 years), Aaron Wong, Pansy Ku and Hye-Kyung Bae (15 years), and Ben Kong (25 years).
The Cocktail — Friday evening, 27 November
François had a busy day, greeting clients and friends of Christie’s.
This season, Christie’s will present over 4,000 works of art and objects. I spent time greeting friends and clients, welcoming them to Christie’s Hong Kong.
The Evening Sale — Saturday 28 November
Sanyu’s Vase of Chrysanthemums on a Yellow Table sells for HK$46,000,000.
As the auction began, the James Christie room filled with collectors, all gathered to see works put together by Christie’s specialist Eric Chang and his team. Led by our dashing Rahul, the auction had a number of electrifying moments, with exceptional masterpieces inspiring intense bidding — and excellent results. In total, the sale realised HK$508 million, with Sanyu’s Vase of Chrysantemums on a Yellow Table becoming the top lot, when it sold for a remarkable HK$46million.
The Jewellery Sale — Tuesday 1 December
The Crimson Flame, the most expensive ruby was sold at HK$142,000,000.
Jewellery is closest and dearest to my heart, and I watched the Christie’s jewellery specialists in action for eight hours (from 1 to 9pm), seeing sales of diamonds, gems, and jadeite. I took to the auctioneer’s podium to sell a few lots, giving Rahul a chance to take a breather! At the end of the night, we’d raised HK$748 million, establishing two world records: the most expensive ruby ever sold, for The Crimson Flame, sold for HK$142 million, and the highest price per carat, realised for an Afghan emerald, sold for HK$17.6million.
The Conclusion — Wednesday 2 December
Other auctions — of Chinese works of art and handbags and accessories — similarly saw our salesrooms filled to capacity. The week only really ends, however, with drinks with colleagues, poolside at the Grand Hyatt, where conversations about results, sell-through rates and estimates continue! I must apologise to the families and partners of my Christie's colleagues for taking them away over the course of the past week. The good news is things will return to normal after today — at least until next season!
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For more on our 2015 Hong Kong Autumn Auctions, please visit christies.com/hk