Records at art sale despite downturn

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am

It was scaled back because of the financial crisis, but Christie's spring auction set a few records and lifted the auction house's hopes for a better autumn season.

Traditionally held in the last week of May, this year's Christie's spring sale, which ended on Wednesday, raked in HK$1.07 billion, down about 45 per cent from last spring's record HK$2.4 billion.

More than 70 per cent of items offered in a number of categories, including Chinese 20th century art (day sale), Asian contemporary art, fine Chinese modern paintings and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, managed to find new homes during the sale.

Over 90 per cent of lots offered in the jewellery, watches and wine categories were sold. More than half the lots were sold at prices above their higher estimates.

A few records were set despite a drop in demand for Asian art because of the economic downturn.

Mainland painter Sanyu's Cat and Birds fetched HK$42.1 million at the Asian contemporary art and Chinese 20th century art evening sale, a world record for the artist. The sale also set records for about 20 artists, with the top four pieces Chinese 20th century works.

Christie's Asia president, Andrew Foster, said that although total sales were lower than last spring, the average lot values were about 30 per cent higher than at the autumn sale.

Mr Foster admitted that supply was a limiting factor for this sale and said he hoped more people would be willing to sell items in the autumn.

Drop in takings

Last year's spring sale netted a record HK$2.4 billion

This year, even though some record prices were set, Christie's sold fewer lots, for a total of just over: $1b



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