Rare treat for collectors and connoisseurs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

Following the success of the autumn sales, which realised the highest total for a series in Hong Kong, Sotheby's stages a series of spring sales covering imperial porcelain, contemporary Asian art, jewellery, watches and fine wines from tomorrow until April 8.

The auctions, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will offer more than 3,600 lots, with an estimated value in excess of HK$2.4 billion, that promise to excite the interest of collectors and connoisseurs keen to enhance their collections.

Leading the event are the sales of two private collections of Chinese art from Europe. The Meiyintang Collection - an important selection of imperial Chinese porcelains - is considered one of the grandest of Chinese art formed in the last century. Assembled over 50 years, the collection features excellent examples of imperial porcelain.

Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman, Sotheby's Asia, and international head of Sotheby's Chinese ceramics and works of art department, says: 'Discerning and disciplined, the collector sought only the most significant objects from each reign and worked closely with the foremost experts in the field - leading dealers E.T. Chow and Giuseppe Eskenazi. The result of this patient and learned process is a monumental collection that represents a lifetime's pursuit of the definitive group of Chinese porcelain.'

Estimated to bring HK$710 million to HK$1.07 billion, some 80 items from the 14th to 18th centuries will be up for sale. While there are many exquisite pieces up for auction on April 7, one of the more notable is the fanlangcai or 'foreign colour' vase with golden pheasants painted on it from the Qing dynasty, that is expected to fetch more than HK$180 million.

Other highly prized pieces include an underglaze-red 'chrysanthemum' dish with floral designs from the Ming dynasty, estimated at HK$25 million to HK$35 million, and a blue and white 'dragon' bottle vase (yuhuchun ping) with dragon from the Yuan dynasty, estimated to be valued at HK$8 million to HK$12 million.

The other private compilation is The Ullens Collection - The Nascence of Avant Garde China with the sale of 106 pieces that will go under the hammer on Sunday. Belgian collector Baron Guy Ullens has collected contemporary Chinese art for more than 20 years and the assortment is a historical representation from the mid-1980s to early 1990s.

The collection spans not only schools and movements, such as Political Pop and Cynical Realism, but also media, ranging from sculpture to painting, photography and installation.

Ullens says now is the time for him to share his collection. 'This will enable me to work with new and emerging artists, as has been my passion since I began this collection over 20 years ago. I am particularly excited at the group selected for this sale, as most of these works have rarely been seen publicly, and this sale will provide a unique opportunity for people to experience an extraordinary moment in the development of contemporary Chinese art.'

One of the highlights of the sale is an oil painting entitled Mao Zedong: P2 by Wang Guangyi that is estimated to bring in HK$1.5 million to HK$2 million.

Other works up for auction include Zhang Xiaogang's triptych Forever Lasting Love (1988), estimated at HK$25 million to HK$30 million; Born in 1989 (1995) by Liu Wei, estimated at HK$1.5 million to HK$2 million; and Zeng Fanzhi's Mask Series No. 4 (1994), estimated at HK$8 million to HK$10 million.

The sale of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian paintings will be held on April 4, featuring more than 145 works worth in excess of HK$36 million. Mok Kim Chuan, Sotheby's head of Southeast Asian paintings, says: 'The star lot is an extremely rare, monumental piece by Indonesian artist S. Sudjojono, entitled Kami Present, Ibu Pertiwi [Stand Guard for Our Motherland], which has not been seen publicly since its completion in 1965. This is a masterpiece that is worthy of appreciation not only for its artistic merits, but also its historical significance.'

Serious wine collectors will have a chance to acquire some top wines from two collections in sales that will be held over three days, tomorrow to Sunday. The Ultimate Cellar, featuring almost 11,000 bottles, will offer the most extensive selection of Domaine de la Romanee Conti and white wines (Bordeaux and Burgundy) to come to auction. The estimate of the Ultimate Cellar sale is HK$55 million to HK$80 million.

Serena Sutcliffe, worldwide head of wine at Sotheby's and a master of wine, describes how in awe they were after encountering the collection for the first time.

'One of the first sensations we felt upon visiting the collection was admiration for the exemplary quest for quality exercised by the owner, followed by amazement as to how he managed to acquire such treasures on this scale,' she says.

'He loves wine deeply, and took immense trouble and time to learn about it and understand why some wines are truly great.

'Wine's real place in this world is to give pleasure and enhance lives, and so we are delighted to bring this precious collection to Asia for it to find new wine-loving owners who will experience the sheer joy of its ethereal scents and tastes.'

Most of the bottles in the collection were bought directly from chateaux or Domaine, and the wines were stored in a custom-designed cellar that kept the temperature constant in order to ensure the wines were kept in the best condition possible.

Of the red Burgundy, the highlight is a selection of 2,800 bottles and 383 lots of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, with such classic vintages as 1964, 1971, 1978, 1985, 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2005. Other great producers featured are Rousseau, Jayer, Leroy and de Vogue.

The sale of white Burgundy features 700 bottles from Domaine Leflaive, with 13 vintages of Montrachet. Others are from Coche-Dury, Joseph Drouhin Marquis de Laguiche and Louis Latour.

The selection of dry white Bordeaux is the greatest to come to market with an extensive selection of Haut Brion Blanc, Lavile Haut Brion and Domaine de Chevalier Blanc.

The other sale is The Classic Cellar from a Great American Collector VII that will be held tomorrow. Some of the finest Bordeaux wines will be auctioned off, including the first growths Chateau Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion, plus Right-Bank greats such as Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Le Pin and Ausone.

Also available is 20th-century Chinese art from the likes of Chen Yifei and Zao Wou-ki, fine Chinese paintings by Wu Guanzhong and Qi Baishi, and jewellery featuring jadeite, coloured diamonds and gemstones, and rare watches.

Sotheby's Hong Kong Spring Sales Series

Venue Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai

Public exhibition April 1-7

Auctions April 1-8

For more information www.sothebys.com/hongkong

Inquiries 2822 8142