This is a good week to go on a fine-art buying spree, especially if you have pockets as deep as so many mainland collectors. Sotheby's will be holding its second sale of the Ullens collection tonight, placing 90 lots on the block, including works by Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and Sui Jianguo, estimated to fetch more than HK$77 million in total.
The first instalment of 105 pieces of artwork, held in April, raked in HK$427 million, a record for a single-owner sale of Chinese contemporary art at auction. Belgian tycoon Guy Ullens and his wife, Myriam, announced they were selling off their collection in phases earlier this year as their interest had shifted to Indian contemporary art. The couple initially wanted a single buyer for it but couldn't find one.
'The dream was to sell the whole collection as one in China but that was too much,' Ullens reportedly said. 'The collection is huge.' So expect more works from their vaults to come onto the market in the coming months and years.
The auction house will also be putting under the hammer a self-portrait of mainland artist Yue Minjun, titled Good Luck in the Year of the Rabbit, tomorrow. It was donated to the Asian Cultural Council in support of an interactive piece by local artist Amy Cheung presented at their booth at this year's Hong Kong International Art Fair in May. Proceeds will go to the council, a non-profit group which sets up educational programmes abroad for Asian artists.
Seoul Auction's two-day private sale continues today, with 30 pieces by prominent Asian artists such as Zhang, Yayoi Kusama and Lee Ufan up for grabs. The auctioneer will also host a talk this afternoon at the Grand Hyatt hotel on 'Korean Artists in the Global Art Scene' for those who are interested in Korean contemporary art, a genre that is still regarded as greatly undervalued.
Online auction company artnet is now holding its major 71-lot Chinese contemporary art sale that runs until October 11, featuring a selection of paintings, works on paper, and sculptures by artists including Zhang Huan, Liu Bolin and Liu Wei. In July, it created a world record with a 1978 Andy Warhol painting, Flowers, which was sold to an American collector for more than US$1.3 million.
There is more Asian contemporary art - as well as antiques from the region - on offer at this year's Fine Art Asia, which kicks off tomorrow. Set up by local art and antiques dealer Andy Hei in 2006 (as the Art and Antique International Fair), this annual event has grown to the extent that it now boasts 100 exhibitors from Asia, Europe and the US. A highlight will be the exhibition of a Belgian private collection of Chinese antiquities presented by the Paris-based Galerie Christian Deydier.
Artefacts include a bronze wine vessel from the Anyang period of the Shang dynasty (13th-12th century BC) and a bronze animal from the 6th-5th century BC.