Chinese painting fetches record HK$79.06m
Ada Lee and Ng Kang-chung
Zhang Xiaogang's Forever Lasting Love (1988) became the most expensive contemporary Chinese painting in history when it was sold for HK$79.06 million in a Sotheby's Hong Kong auction last night.
The triptych, which was exhibited in the China Avant-Garde Exhibition in 1989, had been expected to fetch between HK$25 million and HK$30 million. The second-most expensive paintings in the sale were Zhang Peili's Series 'X?' No.3 (1986) and Zhang Xiaogang's Blood Series: Chen Weimin (1993). Expected to fetch HK$2.5 million and HK$7 million respectively, they both sold for the identical HK$23.06 million.
They were among 105 lots from The Ullens Collection - The Nascence of Avant-Garde China, which belonged to the renowned Belgian art collector Baron Guy Ullens and included mainly works by sought-after artists from the 1980s and 1990s. The lots fetched a total of HK$427 million.
Ullens is regarded as the most important international collector of Chinese contemporary art, amassing a huge collection and opening his contemporary art museum in Beijing in 2007 - the Ullens Centre. It is also the largest non-profit exhibition space at Beijing's 798 art zone.
However, last month the Ullens Centre was criticised for cancelling a planned retrospective of the controversial artist Ai Weiwei . The move was widely considered politically motivated, but Ullens denied it.
Earlier, Sotheby's concluded its two-day wine sale, The Ultimate Cellar, which fetched HK$96.8 million, well over the pre-sale estimate of HK$77.4 million. The top lot, a case of Romanee Conti 1990, sold for HK$1.8 million. Strong prices were seen in the best vintages from top Burgundy producers, demonstrating the increasing appeal of Burgundy in Asia, said the auction house.
The Ultimate Cellar sale together with another wine sale earlier last week - The Classic Cellar from A Great American Collector VII - brought the combined total of Sotheby's Hong Kong wine sales series this year to HK$250 million.
Hong Kong has seen a sustained growth in wine imports and related businesses since 2008, when the government scrapped wine duty.
Hong Kong surpassed New York last year to become the world's largest wine auction centre.