Asian art records tumble at Christie's HK auction

Sat May 24, 2008 12:44pm EDT
 
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A work by Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi sold for $9.5 million on Saturday, a new auction record for an Asian contemporary artwork, at auctioneer Christie's first evening sale of such art in Hong Kong.

Other records also fell as the auction brought a dash of black-tie glamour to the former British colony'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 Jonathan Stone, Christie's International Business Director for Asian Art.

"If you look at the list of buyers in the top ten there were Asian private buyers, European private buyers, there was a very international flavor to the sale," he told Reuters.

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

Several telephone bidders helped push the price to HK$75.37 million including the buyer's premium, making it the most expensive Asian contemporary artwork sold at auction, Christie's said.

Zeng's 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.   Continued...