AUCTION MARKET WATCH Sotheby’s said it will cease holding auctions of Asian contemporary art in New York and “consolidate” them instead in Hong Kong, with biannual sales in the Asian city.
Sotheby’s said it will organize dedicated auctions of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian art in April and October in Hong Kong, starting next year. Its Sept. 17 sale of such Asian works in New York will be its last in the city, said Rhonda Yung, Sotheby’s Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, in an interview. The decision doesn’t preclude sales of batches of Asian artworks at its New York, Paris and London auctions, Yung said.
The move by the U.S. auction house tracks that of London- based rival Christie’s International, which held Asia’s first major evening sale of the region’s contemporary works in Hong Kong in May. Artist Zeng Fanzhi’s painting of masked Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution era fetched a Chinese contemporary-art record of HK$75.4 million ($9.7 million) at Christie’s inaugural sale.
“It’s a shrewd decision,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing-based contemporary-art dealer. “While Europe still has the top collectors of Asian contemporary art, being in Hong Kong shows Sotheby’s commitment to a growing market.”
Tian said Christie’s has about 60 percent of the Asian contemporary-art auction market, while Sotheby’s has 40 percent. Christie’s has a “good but not insurmountable” lead over Sotheby’s in that market, Tian said.
“It has become increasingly evident that contemporary Asian works have consistently fetched the highest prices at auction in Hong Kong,” said Kevin Ching, Sotheby’s Hong Kong-based chief executive officer, in a statement.
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