Bloomberg News

Sotheby’s Sale Raises $411 Million as Wine, Art Lure Buyers

October 06, 2011

(Updates with sales total in first paragraph.)

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s raised HK$3.2 billion ($411.3 million) from a six-day sale of art, ceramics, gems and wines in Hong Kong that ended today, compared with a presale estimate of HK$2.7 billion, the New York-based auction house said.

Chinese bidders pushed prices of diamonds and Ming porcelain to records at a Hong Kong auction last night, as wealthy Asians poured money into an investment class that’s centuries old amid volatile global stock markets.

The Sotheby’s salesroom erupted in applause after a 6.01 carat blue diamond ring sold for HK$79.1 million ($10 million), the most paid at auction per carat for such a stone. At the ceramics sale next door a vase went for HK$167.8 million, the highest auction price for a Ming dynasty piece and double its HK$80 million top estimate.

“Chinese art is still going strong,” said London-based art dealer William Qian, who bid unsuccessfully on the vase. “People still buying suggests this is a very healthy form of art to invest in.” Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has slumped more than 26 percent this year.

The blue-and-white vase was the subject of a 10-minute battle between two Asian telephone bidders. It was one of 32 lots of Imperial porcelain out of 40 works from the Meiyintang private collection that sold in about an hour, raising HK$560 million, compared with an estimate of HK$430 million.

Together with a separate sale of fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, including imperial seals, jade and lacquer and jewelry, Sotheby’s achieved HK$1.48 billion yesterday.

The total for the first five days alone, including contemporary and 20th-century Asian art and wine, was HK$3.1 billion, exceeding Sotheby’s HK$2.7 billion estimate.

Not all the most-expensive items succeeded. The top lot in yesterday’s jewelry sale, a 9.27 carat pink diamond ring with a high estimate of HK$150 million didn’t sell.

Paintings Sale

Wealthy Chinese keen to repatriate their cultural heritage helped set a record for 20th-century master Zhang Daqian on Oct. 4. His 1961 color picture “Self Portrait in Yellow Mountains” was the top selling lot. The ink-and-watercolor work fetched HK$46.6 million, almost four times its high estimate of HK$12 million. Works by Lin Fengmian and Qi Baishi also sold at several times estimates.

Almost 12 hours of bidding on 364 lots of Chinese fine- paintings on Oct. 4 raised HK$738.3 million including fees, the highest for the New York-based auction house in that art category. The presale estimate was HK$200 million at hammer prices, which don’t include the buyer’s premium.

Actress Jewels

Watches and jewelry from the estate of Hong Kong singer and actress Anita Mui also went on sale yesterday, with 100 percent of items selling for a total of HK$6.8 million. Sotheby’s also raised $HK2.1 million for the University of Oxford’s China Center in a charity event on Oct. 4.

Buyer’s premium, the commission added to the hammer price of works sold, is 25 percent for the first HK$400,000, 20 percent for lots fetching as much as HK$8 million, and 12 percent above that. The wine premium is a flat 21 percent. Estimates reflect the hammer price, before premium.

Potential buyers who aren’t represented at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre sale can bid via Sotheby’s online bidding system.

--Editors: Mark Beech, Adam Majendie.

To contact the reporter on this story Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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