Landscape goes for HK$34.8 million, the highest paid for an oil painting by a Chinese artist A Taiwanese modern artwork fetched a record price for a Chinese oil painting yesterday, reflecting a 10-fold increase in the market for Chinese contemporary art in recent years. Danshui, by Chen Chengbo, sold for HK$34,840,000 at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, the highest price realised at the sale. On offer were about 200 pieces of modern art - those finished in the late 19th century until the 1970s - and contemporary art, pieces completed since the late 1970s. Chen's piece, depicting the picturesque tourist city north of Taipei, was sold to an unidentified Asian private collector. Sotheby's Hong Kong deputy director Evelyn Lin said the price was high because the artist only made four paintings of the beautiful landscape of Danshui. Ms Lin said prices of Chinese contemporary art had soared because of the mainland's economic boom which had fuelled the development of the Chinese art market. 'The market for Chinese contemporary art has become more international, and buyers have higher expectations of the future development of the Chinese economy,' she said. Contemporary painting Big Family Series: No 15, by mainland artist Zhang Xiaogang, sold for HK$8,744,000. Zhang is best known for his work between 1984 and 2004, and the painting, a full-body portrait of two solemn-looking men, was created at the height of his career. The painting was sold to a private collector over the phone. Another painting by Zhang, Bloodline Series: Comrade No 120 was sold for US$980,000 in New York in late March this year. 'The prices of Chinese contemporary artworks used to be just tens of thousands of US dollars and now they have soared up to US$1 million, as reflected by the price of one of Zhang's paintings sold at our auction today,' Ms Lin, head of the auctioneer's Chinese contemporary art department, said. 'Sotheby's began holding sales of Chinese contemporary art in Hong Kong in 2004, and we have seen a steady increase in prices over the past few years.' The participation of international collectors also contributed to the rise in prices, she said. Ting Lai-ching, a daughter of famous Hong Kong artist Ting Yanyong whose oil painting, Buddha, sold for HK$5 million, agreed. 'Chinese artworks have lots of potential to rise in value and many people are turning their eyes to Chinese art works as some kind of investment,' said Ms Ting. She explained that as China continued to play a bigger role in the international political and economic arena, prices of Chinese artworks would rise. 'Many collectors prefer buying Chinese paintings or sculptures now, because they are still relatively cheaper than western artworks which means they have a lot more room to rise in value.'