Sotheby's sells $89 million of Asian art in Hong Kong sales

Wed Apr 8, 2009 12:03pm EDT
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Sotheby's hammered off a total of HK$691 million ($88.6 million) worth of artwork in its spring Asian sales in Hong Kong, 11 percent higher than its pre-sale estimate in a steady showing for the fragile Chinese art market.

Its biannual Asia sales in Hong Kong, often seen as a weather vane for the Chinese art market, was characterized this time round by a far smaller, more realistically priced selection.

While demand was still weak for lesser objects, the appetite among buyers, especially wealthy Chinese, for top-flight items remained undiminished.

"We are delighted with the very healthy results that we have achieved, and they send a very positive and encouraging signal to the market," said Kevin Ching, CEO for Sotheby's Asia.

Bidding was strong in the "Eight Treasures" sale, with the European-sourced collection of imperial porcelain fired in the kilns of Jingdezhen, completely sold off.

In particular, a pear-shaped reticulated celadon vase, with the seal mark of the Qing dynasty Qianlong period, sold for $HK47.7 million ($6.1 million), a world auction record for Qing Monochrome porcelain according to Sotheby's.

"For that sale I think the prices were strong ... and prices were totally on a par with what you'd expect from about a year ago," said Nicolas Chow, the head of Chinese ceramics and works of art at Sotheby's.

In Chinese ceramics and works of art however, there was inconsistent demand across the board with 44 percent of 54 lots unsold, while a rare set of Ming furniture fared poorly.   Continued...

<p>A pear-shaped reticulated celadon vase with the seal mark of the Qing dynasty's Qianlong period, which was sold for $6.1 million, a world auction record for Qing monochrome porcelain, is seen during a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong in this handout picture released April 8, 2009. REUTERS/Sotheby's/Handout</p>