Christie’s breaks own Asia sale record as ‘Picasso’ diamond goes for HK$250 million

Auction company’s week-long autumn sales saw strong demand in Asian modern and contemporary art category

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 9:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 11:00pm

Christie’s on Tuesday sold a 14.93-carat pink diamond it dubbed a “Picasso of the diamond world” for HK$249.9 million (US$32 million), the most expensive jewellery it has ever sold in Asia as the Hong Kong auction market continues to benefit from a long bull run in the stock and property markets. 

Another highlight was Chinese ink artist Fu Baoshi’s The Song of the Pipa Player (1945), which sold for HK$204.9 million (US$26.3 billion) including commissions. That was more than double its previous price, when it sold in November 2010 for US$9 million.

Christie’s week-long autumn sales, which end tomorrow, saw strong demand in the Asian modern and contemporary art category.

On Saturday, Zao Wou-Ki's 29.01.64 (1964) sold for HK$202.6 million, a new world record for an Asian oil painting and smashing the previous record for the artist – HK$152.9 million – that was set in May. Taiwanese collector Robert Tsao sold a Ming-dynasty wucai “Fish” jar and cover for HK$213.9 million, compared with a pre-sale estimate of HK$150 million before fees.

A special sale of paintings and objects that used to be owned by Claude Monet also saw enthusiastic bidding earlier in the week, with a pair of glasses that could have been worn by the French artist that had an estimate of HK$8,000-HK$12,000 and sold for HK$400,000.

Despite the Hang Seng Index touching the 30,000 level last week and new records in the local property market, collectors were not buying with the same abandonment as they did during the market bubble of 2010-11.

The pink diamond was sold at the low-end of its pre-sale estimate. Five out of the 13 lots that Tsao was selling on Monday didn’t find buyers.

At Phillips, there was a healthy 90 per cent sell-through rate by lots at its Hong Kong evening sale, where the top 10 lots included paintings by western artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Georg Baselitz. However, a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting called Hong Kong (1985) was sold for a hammer price of HK$3.5 million, below the pre-sale estimate of HK$3.9 million, and a Richard Prince painting estimated at HK$31 million to HK$41 million was unsold.