Sotheby's sets record with $542 million at Hong Kong autumn sales

Wed Oct 9, 2013 1:12am EDT
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By Grace Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Sotheby's celebrated its 40 years of business in Asia by raising a better-than-expected HK$4.2 billion ($542 million) in Hong Kong, a record for the global auction house's autumn sales in the city.

Sotheby's biannual sales in Hong Kong are considered a barometer of demand from China and elsewhere in Asia for some of the world's most expensive artworks and luxury goods. As many as 16 records were set at the five-day event.

Among the highlights was Zeng Fanzhi's painting "The Last Supper" - inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's work of the same name - which sold for $23.1 million, setting a record for a piece of Asian contemporary art.

The final result was hailed as a success by Sotheby's, exceeding its forecasts of some $370 million for the more than 3,500 lots on offer. The amount was almost double the $280 million Sotheby's sold at its spring Hong Kong sales in April.

"We've taken the pulse of the Asian art market - it's racing and we are racing with it," Sotheby's Asia Chairman Patti Wong said in a statement, adding that the result "demonstrates the importance of Hong Kong as an international selling center".

A 118.28-carat white diamond fetched $30.6 million, a world auction record for such a gem and the most expensive item sold during the event. The buyer's identity was not disclosed.

China's diamond market, now the world's second-largest after the United States, has more than tripled to $22.8 billion over the last five years, market research firm Euromonitor says.

Another record was set by a massive Ming gilt-bronze figure of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha, which went to a Chinese collector from Guangdong for $30.3 million.   Continued...