ART AUCTIONS ASIAN ART MARKET HONG KONG
“The Perfect Storm” is what Christie’s International CEO Steven Murphy called the company’s Hong Kong Autumn 2010 auctions that ended on 2 December. The auctions resulted in a total of USD414 million in revenue from art and collectables sales which is a 95 percent increase from last year. To follow on from our report on Sotheby’s record-breaking October auction results, we round-up what’s being said in the media about the Christie’s event.
Click here to read about the Hong Kong auctions announcement on the Christie’s website, click here to read the Art Daily report on the auction revenue figures mentioned above and click here to read our report on the Sotheby’s autumn sale.
While main rival Sotheby’s set records in its October sales series, it seems Christie’s has proven even more successful with its series which included sessions for Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, Asian art and Chinese 20th century art as well as Imperial treasures sales.
Ben Kong, International Director of Chinese Paintings at Christie’s was reported on Art Daily as saying, “This season’s excellent results reflect a 92 percent increase from last year’s autumn sale, while the average lot value also increased by 42 percent compared to last year.” Indeed, a number of artworks were sold for well above their estimates; 87 percent of pieces, for instance, from the Fine Chinese Modern Paintings session. Modern artists such as Fu Baoshi, Zhang Daqian, Xu Beihong and Qi Baishi were in high demand.
The Asian Contemporary and Chinese 20th Century sessions’ star was Sanuy’s Potted Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniére which sold for HKD53.3 million; the estimate was HKD35 million. The Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art session confirmed I Nyoman Masriadi and Ronald Ventura as premier Southeast Asian contemporary artists. However, although Masriardi’s satirical road scene Trombone (2010) was sold for double its pre-sale estimate, the prices for his pieces sold for below what their value was in the artist’s 2007-2008 heyday. The highlight of the modern art sales was Walter Spies’ Balinese Legend (1929) which was sold for HKD16.9 million and almost doubled the artist’s previous best of HKD9.38 million.
Steven Murphy told Live Trading News in an interview before the auction ended that there was “clearly a surge in the interests [on the works of arts], the number of buyers and [people’s] willingness to pay for items.” He went on to say that he thought the auction was a “kind of Perfect Storm, a combination of several elements.”
Mirroring October’s Sotheby’s auction, the Christie’s event was heavily attended by mainland Chinese collectors. As a Christie’s spokeswoman stated, about 43 percent of buyers were from the Chinese mainland which reflected their growing wealth and increasingly sophisticated tastes. According to Murphy, both the development of the Chinese economy and a growing level of appreciation for locally created artworks among Chinese collectors has contributed to this surge of buyers from the mainland and their purchasing activities.
Art market research firm ArtTactic’s recent report, as discussed on Jing Daily, points out that the Chinese art market is in the midst of a “second boom.” However, this boom is different to the first (2005-2008) in which Western “early adopters” boosted sales. Now, mainland Chinese collectors are reported to be rising prices and shifting trends. As Jing Daily puts it, “The study projects that this trend is likely to continue, and will in all likelihood only widen the valuation gap between Chinese artists who appeal more to Western collectors – such as Ai Weiwei and Zhang Huan – and those who represent a more ‘Asian taste,’ such as Zeng Fanzhi, Liu Ye, and Zhang Xiaogang.”
After both the Christie’s and Sotheby’s autumn auctions it is clear that Hong Kong is on its way to becoming, after London and New York, one of biggest auction centres in the world. As the demand from Asian and Chinese collectors grows and the Chinese economy develops, Hong Kong, and the Asian region as a whole, is constantly reaffirming itself as a main art market hub. As ArtTactic states, “If the current rate of growth continues, we could be in the beginning of a second bubble in the Chinese contemporary art market, inflated by strong Asian demand for high-yielding assets.”
- Mid auction season Hong Kong art market update: Sotheby’s sale round-up – November 2010 – conclusions from Sotheby’s autumn auctions in Hong Kong
- Artnet chooses Hong Kong as debut venue for new venture – Art Radar scoop interview – October 2010 – ambitious plans to break into high-priced art dealing in Hong Kong
- Is globalisation of the art market slowing down? The Economist reports – June 2010 – globalisation might be slowing down in the art market
- Christies in Dubai sets record for most pricey Arab artwork – November 2009 – another record set by Christie’s in Dubai for contemporary Arab artwork
- Christie’s June 2008 South Asian Modern + Contemporary Sale records dominated by Indian works – June 2008 – 12 artist records set in 2008 Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary sale