Global auction house Sotheby’s notched up its best ever sales tally for an Asian auction series in Hong Kong on Friday, selling HK$3.08 billion ($400 million) worth of Asian art, jewelry, wine and watches.
The strong results for the biannual auctions, widely seen as a barometer for the Chinese and Asian art markets, underscored surging demand from affluent mainland Chinese buyers for top tier Chinese imperial treasures and ceramics, though results were mixed and relatively flat for objects of lesser quality.
The $400 million tally exceeded Sotheby’s annual takings for both its Asian sales in 2009 when parts of the Chinese art market were lashed by the financial crisis and buyers stayed away.
“What we saw was just that desperate, desperate hunger for objects of great quality,” said Kevin Ching, the CEO of Sotheby’s Asia in a Reuters interview. “It’s a very delicate chemistry between the collectors’ desires and the outstanding quality of the objects available. There was a growing realization that outstanding objects are in very short supply.”
Half of the top lots were bought by mainland Chinese.
Above: Zhang Xiaogang’s (b.1958) early masterpiece Chapter of a New Century – Birth of the People’s Republic of China II. Est. HK$21–23 million / US$2.69–2.94 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.