Hong Kong Spring sales season maintains Christie’s global leadership in Asian Art

World auction records for a work by Zao Wou-Ki, a Chinese monochrome porcelain, and a handbag — highlights from a spectacular week of sales totalling $316 million

Christie’s Hong Kong Spring 2017 season achieved a total of over HK$2.45bn / $316 million, with competitive bidding from Asian and international clients across 16 live auctions. ‘We have had another strong season of sales with multiple world records for top masterpieces,’ commented Rebecca Wei, President of Christie’s Asia. ‘Over the week we saw buyers from 32 markets, with almost a fifth of them being new to Christie’s.’ 

The Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art auction series totalled HK$731,728,750 / $94,359,895, with 92 per cent sold by lot in the new Contemporaries: Voices from East and West Evening Sale, and 37 per cent of lots selling above high estimate.

‘This season marked the debut of a truly global evening sale uniting the very best of Western and Asian art,’ said Eric Chang, Deputy Chairman, International Director of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art. ‘Bidding was particularly strong for the Contemporaries Evening Sale  in which three auction world records were set.’

The top lot in the sale was 29.09.64  by Zao Wou-Ki, which realised HK$152,860,000 / $19,712,015, over three times its high estimate — a figure that established a new world auction record for the artist. ‘The success of this inaugural evening sale, built around a global theme and breaking all geographical and cultural boundaries, epitomises the growing trend of Asian buyers gravitating towards Western art and vice-versa,’ said Chang. Western collectors accounted for 20 per cent of total buyers in the sale. 

Video: Zao Wou-Ki’s 29.09.64 realised HK$152,860,000/ US$19,712,015

The three auctions of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art  achieved 29 records for emerging and established artists, demonstrating strong support for a broad spectrum of works and price points.

The four auctions of Chinese Paintings — Chinese Contemporary Ink, Fine Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy, Fine Chinese Modern Paintings and the stand-alone Resplendent and Glorious — Ancient Temples Amidst Clouds previously from the Mei Yun Tang Collection collectively realised a total of HK$491,948,750 / $63,439,121. The highlight from this series of sales was Ancient Temples Amidst Clouds  by Zhang Daqian, which sold for HK$102,460,000 / $13,212,699.

Video: Zhang Daqian’s Ancient Temples Amidst Clouds realised HK$102,460,000 / US $13,212,699

The Fine Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy  sale achieved HK$76,507,500 / $9,866,005, and was led by Landscape in Rain  by Jin Tingbiao (HK$9,660,000 / $1,245,702). The Fine Chinese Modern Paintings  sale realised HK$295,266,250 / $38,075,984 and was 86 per cent sold by value, led by Guanyin After Early Tang Style  by Zhang Daqian, which realised HK$39,740,000 / $5,142,660.

Video: An exceptional natural pearl and diamond necklace, by Paspaley realised HK$ 16,140,000 / US$ 2,081,329

The Magnificent Jewels  auction totalled HK$618,655,250 / $79,778,530, with the top lot being a 3.98 carat Fancy Vivid blue diamond ring by Moussaieff, which sold to Harry Winston for HK$68,860,000 / $8,879,821. A magnificent emerald and diamond ‘palmette’ by Edmond Chin for the House of Boghossian set a world auction record for a selection of no oil Colombian emeralds, selling to an Asian private buyer for HK$46,460,000 / $5,991,235.

On 26 and 27 of May, the two-day wine sale realised a total of HK$50,845,585 / $6,557,620, with over 90 per cent sold by value. The top lot of the Finest & Rarest Wines from An Exceptional Private Collection Direct From Octavian Vaults  sale was six bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2006, realising HK$796,250 / $102,716, while groups of vintage Salon Champagne also achieved fantastic results, fetching almost HK$30,000 per lot. The top lot of the An Outstanding Collection of a Wine Lover & A Single Owner Collection  sale was a group of 12 bottles of Château Cheval-Blanc 1947, achieving HK$1,592,500 / $205,360.

Christie’s Important Watches  auction on 29 May was another resounding success, achieving HK$93,887,500 / $12,107,239, with robust sell-through rates both by lot and value. Leading the sale was a Patek Philippe Ref. 5002P, a platinum double-dial wristwatch with twelve complications, circa 2012, which achieved HK$8,820,000 / $1,137,380.

The season finished on a high note, with five live auctions on 31 May, including Adorning the Kings — A Private Collection of Archaic Jade Ornaments, which totalled HK$38,928,750 and was 91.7 per cent sold by value; The Perfect Countenance — Fine Buddhist Works of Art, which totalled HK$84,340,000, and was 93.2 per cent sold by value; and Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, which realised HK$158,596,250.

Video: The Yongzheng Emperor’s Double-Dragon Amphora realised HK$140,540,000 / $18,129,688, a new world auction record for a Chinese monochrome porcelain

The best, however, was saved until last, with the single-lot sale of The Yongzheng Emperor’s Double-Dragon Amphora setting a new world auction record for a Chinese monochrome porcelain when it sold for HK$140,540,000 / $18,129,688.

The final live sale of the week provided a fitting climax to a stellar season, with Handbags & Accessories  being 91.12 per cent sold by lot and 92.79 per cent sold by value, for a total of HK$37,493,750. The highlight was undoubtedly the sale of the world’s most expensive handbag, a white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin by Hermès, which was bought for HK$2,940,000 / $379,261.