Record high for Asian art
Mon, May 26, 2008
The Straits Times
HONG KONG - A work by Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi sold for HK$75.37 million (S$13 million) last Saturday, a new auction record for an Asian contemporary artwork.

The sale took place at auctioneer Christie's first evening sale of such art there.

Other records also fell as the auction brought a dash of black-tie glamour to Hong Kong's art market, considered the world's third most important auction hub after New York and London.

Affluent Asian collectors were served champagne and canapes before bidding in a packed auction hall. The results suggested the Chinese art market remains resilient despite financial market jitters.

'There is a worldwide enthusiasm,' said Mr Jonathan Stone, Christie's international business director for Asian Art.

'If you look at the list of buyers in the top 10, there were Asian private buyers, European private buyers, there was a very international flavour to the sale.'

The highlight of the evening was Zeng's large-scale 2m-by-3.6m work titled Mask Series 1996 No. 6, which sold for almost triple its pre-sale estimate.

Several telephone bidders helped push up the price, making it the most expensive Asian contemporary artwork sold at auction, Christie's said.

The diptych of eight masked youths with red scarves linking arms, hints at Mao Zedong's Little Red Guards, who wreaked havoc across China during its tumultuous Cultural Revolution.

The work, not previously offered at auction, is considered a highlight of the artist's Mask series of ambiguous Chinese figures contending with life under communist rule.

The previous record for an Asian contemporary artwork was for a set of 14 drawings by Chinese artist Cai Guoqiang, which sold for HK$74.25 million last November.

Other notable results included Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun's Gweong Gweong, sold for HK$54.1 million, a new auction record for the artist.


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