HONG KONG CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART AUCTIONS
Christie’s Hong Kong 26 November 2011 Private Collection Sale, ‘Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection’, provides a dramatic example of the susceptibility of single-owner sales to a faltering Asian art market. Art Radar reports from the Christie’s auction room.
The Christie’s Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art sale featured 14 lots that comprised the highly anticipated ‘Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection’ offering. The crowded auction room allowed standing room only to non-buying observers, with all seating fully occupied by properly registered bidders. A refundable deposit of HKD1 million (USD128,000) was necessary to acquire the opportunity to bid on the works, which ranged in estimated prices up to HKD30 million (USD3.8 million). Comparatively, the Asian Contemporary Day Sale held on the following day attracted a noticeably smaller crowd, featured a highest-valued work estimated at HKD6-8 million (USD770,000-1 million) and required a lower pre-sale deposit of HKD200,000 (USD25,600).
Single-owner sales hurt by market slowdown
‘Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection’ sorely underperformed with 10 of 14 works (71 percent) failing to meet their lowest pre-sale estimates, and 6 of 14 lots (43 percent) failing to sell completely. This poor performance is notable considering that single-owner sales, including Sotheby’s record-breaking Ullen’s Collection Sale, have attracted an especially healthy interest from collectors in 2011.
Christie’s results indicate that single-owner sales are not impervious to the Asian art market’s newly developed slowdown, as buyers cautiously refused to pay low-end estimates for supposedly highly sought works. The stagnation in prices is especially apparent in Zhang Xiaogang’s Portrait in Yellow, valued at HKD25-30 million (USD3.2-3.9 million), which failed to trade to a safe bid of HKD22 million (USD2.6 million) and The Happy Family by Liu Ye, estimated at HKD12-18 million (USD1.5-2.3 million), which held fast with a bid of HKD9.5 million (USD1.2 million).
Works that met reserves
Liu Ye’s Blue Sea achieved its anticipated hammer price, selling at HKD12 million (USD1.5 million), and the sale’s two cheapest works achieved pre-sale estimates, reaching HKD650,000 (USD84,000) and HKD800,000 (USD103,000). No pre-sale estimate was published for Yue Minjun’s The Massacre at Chios, which proved to be the evening’s highest-earning artwork with HKD28.5 million (USD$3.65 million).
|Christie’s Hong Kong 26 November 2011 Evening Sale Results: ‘Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection’|
|Lot #||Artist||Highest bid||Sale status||Pre-sale estimate|
|1025||Liu Ye||HKD9.5 million||Not sold||HKD12-18 million|
|1026||Zhang Xiaogang||HKD22 million||Not sold||HKD25-30 million|
|1027||Yue Minjun||HKD20 million||Sold||HKD25-30 million|
|1028||Yue Minjun||HKD13 million||Sold||HKD15-18 million|
|1029||Yue Minjun||HKD28.5 million||Sold||Not available|
|1030||Liu Ye||HKD12 million||Sold||HKD10-15 million|
|1031||Liu Ye||HKD7 million||Sold||HKD8-12 million|
|1032||Tang Zhigang||HKD1.8 million||Not sold||HKD2-3 million|
|1033||Tang Zhigang||HKD2 million||Not sold||HKD2.2-2.8 million|
|1034||Cai Guo-Qiang||HKD5 million||Sold||HKD6-8 million|
|1035||Cai Guo-Qiang||HKD4.8 million||Not sold||HKD6-8 million|
|1036||Cai Guo-Qiang||HKD4.8 million||Not sold||HKD6-8 million|
The disappointing results of Asian contemporary art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s Autumn 2011 sales indicate that investors are now questioning the prices established in the Chinese art market bubble, which hit record highs in spring 2011. Furthermore, if Christie’s ‘Faces of New China’ private collection is a market indicator, works of art will not escape heightened investor scrutiny simply because they were created by a prominent Chinese artist or are part of a distinguished private collection. In the currently unstable Chinese art market, it seems only the most exemplary and justifiably priced works executed by reputable artists will emerge unscathed from falling prices.
- Christie’s Hong Kong autumn 2011 sales: Indonesian art triumphs, Indian falters amid cautious market – November 2011 – review of Christie’s autumn Asian Contemporary art sale 2011
- Sotheby’s Ullens Collection: private collection sales stay strong – October 2011 – review of Sotheby’s autumn installment of the Ullens Collection Sale 2011
- Sotheby’s Hong Kong sales results: Offering of Ullens Collection sets record for single-owner sale – April 2011 – What happened at the the Ullens Collection sale in April 2011?
- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sale 2011: Contemporary Asian Art – October 2011 – round-up of the Asian Contemporary Sale 2011
- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Spring 2011 Asian contemporary art sales- results – April 2011 – results from the Spring Sale 2011
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