China: Around The Nation

Work by Chinese ink master sells for record US$50 million as good times roll in world’s biggest art market

Price paid for Yellow Mountain by modernist Huang Binhong was more than seven times what it achieved when it last changed hands in 2011

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 June, 2017, 2:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 June, 2017, 2:06pm

An ink painting by a Chinese modernist artist sold for a record 345 million yuan (US$50.5 million) at an auction in Beijing on Monday, suggesting the good times are well and truly back in the world’s largest art market.

Huang Binhong’s Yellow Mountain was bought by a new-energy vehicle manufacturing company in eastern China’s Shandong province on the opening day of China Guardian’s Spring Auction, news portal reported.

The purchase price –偶of 300 million yuan plus commission – was a record for a work by Huang, an art historian and ink brush master born in 1865 in Jinhua, eastern China’s Zhejiang province. He is considered to be one of the last innovators in the literati style of painting and is noted for his freehand landscapes.

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He completed Yellow Mountain in 1955, the same year he died. The 90-year-old was suffering from a serious eye disease at the time and is believed to have painted the work from memory.

Auction house China Guardian had put an estimate on the piece of 80 million to 120 million yuan, reported. The final selling price was a sevenfold increase on the sum paid when the painting last changed hands for 47.7 million yuan in 2011.

“This is a good investment” for the seller, Dai Wei, a manager at China Guardian, was quoted as saying. He did not reveal the names of either the previous or new owners.

China overtook the United States as the world’s largest art market last year when it handled 38 per cent of the US$12.45 billion in public fine art sales, according to the Global Art Market Annual Report released in February.

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Several Chinese buyers have hit the international headlines recently with their high-priced purchases.

Last month, a 1965 scroll by Chinese modernist painter Zhang Daqian sold to a telephone bidder for HK$102.5 million in a Christie’s sale in Hong Kong.

Earlier in the year, a Chinese buyer reportedly paid US$150 million for Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II.