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HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Sotheby's Hong Kong will auction in April a collection of rarely-seen contemporary Chinese art, offering more than 100 pieces dating from the 1980s to the start of the 21st century.
Though demand has surged recently for top tier Chinese imperial treasures and ceramics from affluent mainland Chinese, who are piling into art as a status symbol and investment, contemporary art has been hard-hit in the wake of the international financial crisis.
The April 3 evening sale, called "The Ullens Collection - The Nascence of Avant Garde China," will offer 106 works from the 1980s and early 1990s from the collection of Belgian collector Baron Guy Ullens, most of which have not been publicly seen since their acquisition.
"I have reached the stage of my collecting journey where it is time to share some of the wealth of my collection with other collectors," Ullens said in a statement.
According to Sotheby's, the works set to go under the hammer chart Chinese political reforms of the 1980s, which resulted in a flood of art scholarship and theory from the West.
The collection is estimated likely to bring a total of HK $100 million to HK$130 million ($12.7 million to $16.7 million).
It includes a triptych by Zhang Xiaogang, "Forever Lasting Love," which was painted in 1988 and carries an estimate of HK$25 million to $30 million.
"The essence of the Ullens Collection is the visualisation of the Chinese nation's history through works of art," said Evelyn Lin, Sotheby's head of Contemporary Asian Art.
Last October, Sotheby's notched up its best ever sales tally for an Asian auction series in Hong Kong, hammering off HK$3.08 billion worth of Asian art, jewelry, wine and watches.
Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Sanjeev Miglani