Sotheby's Hong Kong - Still Going Strong

 A few days ago I posted about seeing some cracks in the Chinese economy.  Typcially the fine and decorative art markets lag a bit behind economic cycles and trends, but looking at the sales this week in Hong Kong by Sotheby's, there really does not seem to be many concerns.  Theses strong sales in Hong Kong show continued strength in the sector, even with the concern in the Chinese economy and recent declines in some of their financial markets.

Perhaps some of the buying is as an alternative investment and as a store of value, but whatever the case may be, the sales have produced some incredible results.  For example, the Chinese painting sales tripled the pre sale estimates.  In any event, given the state of the market right now, the major auction houses are certainly taking advantage of the high demand from Chinese colectors, and seem prepared to do so in the near future.

The following Bloomberg article is a very good review of the recent sales.

Bloomberg reports on the sale

Chinese bidders pushed prices of diamonds and Ming porcelain to records at a Hong Kong auction last night, as wealthy Asians poured money into an investment class that’s centuries old amid volatile global stock markets.

The Sotheby’s (BID) salesroom erupted in applause after a 6.01 carat blue diamond ring sold for HK$79.1 million ($10 million), the most paid at auction per carat for such a stone. At the ceramics sale next door a vase went for HK$167.8 million, the highest auction price for a Ming dynasty piece and double its HK$80 million top estimate.

“Chinese art is still going strong,” said London-based art dealer William Qian, who bid unsuccessfully on the vase. “People still buying suggests this is a very healthy form of art to invest in.” Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) has slumped more than 26 percent this year.

The blue-and-white vase was the subject of a 10-minute battle between two Asian telephone bidders. It was one of 32 lots of Imperial porcelain out of 40 works from the Meiyintang private collection that sold in about an hour, raising HK$560 million, compared with an estimate of HK$430 million.

Together with a separate sale of fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, including imperial seals, jade and lacquer and jewelry, Sotheby’s achieved HK$1.48 billion yesterday. That brought the total for the first five days, including contemporary and 20th-century Asian art and wine, to HK$3.1 billion, exceeding Sotheby’s HK$2.7 billion estimate for the six-day auction series, which concludes today with watches.

Not all the most-expensive items succeeded. The top lot in yesterday’s jewelry sale, a 9.27 carat pink diamond ring with a high estimate of HK$150 million didn’t sell.
Paintings Sale

Wealthy Chinese keen to repatriate their cultural heritage helped set a record for 20th-century master Zhang Daqian on Oct. 4. His 1961 color picture “Self Portrait in Yellow Mountains” was the top selling lot. The ink-and-watercolor work fetched HK$46.6 million, almost four times its high estimate of HK$12 million. Works by Lin Fengmian and Qi Baishi also sold at several times estimates.

Almost 12 hours of bidding on 364 lots of Chinese fine- paintings on Oct. 4 raised HK$738.3 million including fees, the highest for the New York-based auction house in that art category. The presale estimate was HK$200 million at hammer prices, which do not include the buyer’s premium.
Actress Jewels

Watches and jewelry from the estate of Hong Kong singer and actress Anita Mui also went on sale yesterday, with 100 percent of items selling for a total of HK$6.8 million. Sotheby’s also raised $HK2.1 million for the University of Oxford’s China Center in a charity event on Oct. 4.

Buyer’s premium, the commission added to the hammer price of works sold, is 25 percent for the first HK$400,000, 20 percent for lots fetching as much as HK$8 million, and 12 percent above that. The wine premium is a flat 21 percent. Estimates reflect the hammer price, before premium.

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