Art Market Watch
Sotheby’s Hong Kong launched its spring series of Asian sales -- with estimates totaling an astonishing HK$2.4 billion (or $308 million) -- on Sunday, Apr. 3, 2011, with an auction of 105 lots from the collection of 74-year-old Belgian food magnate Guy Ullens (he owns Weight Watchers, too), a much-lauded provenance.
Indeed, the sales tripled the estimate of $16.7 million, soaring to $54.8 million, setting a new auction record for any contemporary Chinese artwork and boosting prices across the board, setting new auction records for a host of other artists.
If China doesn't rule the global auction market yet, you could do worse than predict it might well soon.Bizarrely, this market triumph in Hong Kong takes place at the same time the mainland Chinese communist government is cracking down on poets, artists and intellectuals, including Ai Weiwei, who was detained at the airport and is currently being kept incommunicado.
Ullens promises to take his proceeds and buy more art.. He has also denied any lessening of support for the popular Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, opened in 2007 in Beijing’s 798 district.
Top lots and some of the new records:
Zhang Xiaogang, Forever Lasting Love, 1988, a folk-art-styled triptych of nude figures meditating in a symbol-strewn landscape, sold for the equivalent of $10.1 million, a new record for any Chinese artist.
Xiaogang, who is best known for his series of “Bloodline” portraits, previously had a record of $6.7 million, set six months ago. The current price surpasses previous records of $9.6 million for Zeng Fanzhi’s Mas Series No. 6, set at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2008, and $9.5 million for Cai Guo-Qiang’s suite of 14 gunpowder works, sold in 2007.