Smiling Bombs, 101-Carat Diamond Lead Christie's Hong Kong Sale

13 08 2010

May 23 (Bloomberg) — A Yue Minjun painting on China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown and a 101-carat diamond are among the top lots of Christie’s International’s spring auction in Hong Kong, starting tomorrow, which may tally HK$1.7 billion ($218 million).

Yue’s 1993 “Gweong Gweong” may set an artist auction record of HK$55 million tomorrow at Christie’s first evening sale of Asian art, the London-based company said. On May 28, the near- flawless diamond may fetch more than $8 million. About 2,400 gems, antiques and pictures go under the hammer in the six-day auction.

Record prices paid for Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud works in New York earlier this month may fuel interest among buyers of contemporary art, seeking their Asian equivalent. A rebound in Asian stock markets in the past month will also encourage auction purchases, art dealers said.

“Things are looking up,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing-based dealer. “We sense stronger buying interest and closer scrutiny of Asian contemporary art, especially works by Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Xiaodong, Xu Bing and Zhang Huan.”

Buyers in the Greater China region — China, Hong Kong and Taiwan — accounted for 60 percent of purchases at Christie’s Hong Kong sale in November, compared with 9 percent from Europe and 7 percent in the Americas.

Chinese contemporary-art prices have more than tripled in five years, the fastest increase in Asia. Still, the record for the category — $9.5 million for a set of Cai Guoqiang gunpowder- on-paper works — is a fraction of the price paid for Western counterparts, suggesting there’s room for more gains, Tian said.


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