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Bid of confidence: Sotheby's five-day auction in HK

(Global Times)

14:26, October 15, 2012

Collection of Liang Qichao's items Photo: Courtesy of Council Auction

Despite low expectations for the market to boom this autumn, Sotheby's five-day auction that ran from October 5 in Hong Kong opened a stable and optimistic door for this year's autumn sale.

Hong Kong market hot

Sotheby's auctioned off about 3,600 items, including modern and contemporary artwork, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) porcelain collections, fine Chinese paintings, 20th century Chinese art and contemporary Asian art, as well as jewelry and wine.

On Monday, Sotheby's collected over HK$414 million ($53.2 million) from their Fine Chinese Painting auction fair, where 315 out of 324 pieces were sold. Zhang Daqian's Swiss Peaks,Calligraphy in Xingshu together as one piece and Fu Baoshi's Lady at the Pavilion were sold as the top two highest prices, each fetching HK$23 million.

Another personal record-breaking price came from Sotheby's Contemporary Asian Art Auction, where Chinese artist Liu Wei's Revolutionary Family Series-Invitation to Dinner, which has appeared during the Venice Biennale in 1993, was sold for over HK$17 million.

Lin Jiaru, the director of Contemporary Asian Arts at Sotheby's Hong Kong, said in an interview with the collection channel on that result has proven that the market is becoming mature. Collectors have been actively involved in new auction sections like Chinese abstract arts and Hong Kong arts provided by Sotheby's as an exploration of the market.

Christie's autumn auctions, which will run from November 23 to 28, also have a few highlights. The focus for modern and contemporary art is on names like Zhao Wuji and Zhang Xiaogang, while works from Zhang Daqian and Wang Liben dominate the attention of fine Chinese paintings.

Beijing starts to boom

After the creation of suxiu (Su-style embroidery) and photograph auction catalogues, Beijing Huachen Auctions put out another creative section of its 100 years of Chinese sound theme, selling over 1,000 old gramophone records. There will also be a special fair for Chinese snuff bottles and Chinese ceramics and craft arts.

A particularly treasured item from the Qing Dynasty Jiaqing years (1796-1820), auctioned by Poly International Auction, caught a lot of attention from the public. During the past National Day holiday, Poly exhibited a manuscript which recorded how Chinese writer Shen Fu (1763-1825) and a few others observed the Diaoyu Islands in 1808.

Two groups of collections from No.54 Nanchang Street in Beijing, the old residence of Liang Qichao (1873-1929), the reputable Chinese scholar and reformist during the Qing Dynasty, are from China Guardian and Beijing Council.

Guardian announced that they gathered 200 letters and items from Liang's family, while Council will offer a collection of 950 letters, books, calligraphy and furniture from Liang.

Most of these items will appear in the market for the first time.

Understand the market

In previous years when transaction volume was a priority, many galleries barely had the chance to participate. Since the slowdown of the market last autumn, galleries have actively put on exhibitions and expositions to influence the collection industry.

Beijing Council International Auction has been searching for quality collections since July. It has been to Changsha, Chengdu, Wuhan and seven other cities to open forums, authenticate items and conduct market research. In cooperation with, the renowned Chinese art website, Council also invites people to participate in some online events.

Many industry insiders see this trend as having a positive effect on the industry. It is bringing about a period of auctions trying to expand their market to the public and build up communication with not only high-end collectors but also smaller collectors.

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