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Dracula’s Lanterns Join Romanee-Conti in Hong Kong Sales

November 20, 2012

Imperial Zitan Lantern Stands

A pair of 18th century imperial zitan lantern stands that once belonged to Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi. Carrying a high estimate of $516,000, they go on sale at Christie's International in Hong Kong on Nov. 28. Source: Christie's Images Ltd. via Bloomberg

As Dracula he shunned the light, though in real life Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi owned a pair of 18th-century Chinese lantern stands that will go on sale at Christie’s International in Hong Kong.

The six-day auction of wine, modern and contemporary Asian Art, classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy, ceramics, Chinese furniture, watches and jewelry begins on Nov. 23 and is estimated by Christie’s to raise as much as HK$2.2 billion ($284 million).

Christie’s is joined this week by Bonhams, Seoul Auction, Ravenel International Art Group and Beijing Poly International Auction Co., which is holding its first major auction outside China. Top lots include Leica cameras, rare whiskies and snuff bottles.

“There’s a whole lot of stuff on,” Jehan Chu, an adviser who runs Vermillion Art Collections, said. “We may see renewed confidence following the results in New York, though whether or not it translates into an Asian bounce remains to be seen.”

Last week, Christie’s held its largest postwar and contemporary sale in New York, earning $412.8 million and setting records for eight artists including Franz Kline, Jeff Koons, Donald Judd and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Coupled with their day sales, auction houses sold more than $1 billion of such works during the week in New York.

Glenfiddich Whisky

The series of Hong Kong auctions starts with Bonham’s whisky and cognac sale today at the Island Shangri-La hotel. The sales are led by a bottle of 55 year-old Glenfiddich Janet Roberts Reserve carrying a high estimate of HK$420,000, with the proceeds going to Operation Smile charity.

Other highlights of the four-day Bonhams sale include a Leica Lexus I camera with faux lizard skin body with a high estimate of HK$1.8 million ($232,000) for sale on Nov. 23 and the Paul Braga Collection of snuff bottles on Nov. 24.

The Christie’s marathon begins with a three-day wine sale starting Nov. 23, led by a case of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 and a case of Cheval Blanc 1947, each carrying a presale estimate of as much as HK$1.6 million ($130,000 to $206,400), according to the Christie’s online catalog.

A case of Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2005, a coveted Burgundy estimated at as much as HK$1.4 million, goes on sale on Nov. 24.

Zao Wou-ki

The Christie’s evening sale on Nov. 24 includes oil paintings by Chinese stars Zhang Xiaogang and Zeng Fanzhi and 20th-century Chinese masters Zao Wou-Ki and Zhu Dequn.

Those results may set the tone for buyers at the modern and contemporary Asian sales by Ravenel featuring works by Zao and Yayoi Kusama on Sunday and the Seoul Auction on Monday. Both will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The pair of 18th-century Lugosi lantern stands which once graced the Imperial palace in Beijing. The stands are carved from zitan, a rare wood reserved for use by Chinese emperors. They could sell for as much as HK$4 million ($516,000) on Nov. 28, part of the sale of Chinese furniture from private American collections offered for the first time in Hong Kong.

Other Christie’s highlights include a pair of emerald, diamond and pearl earrings carrying a high presale estimate of HK$38 million and a necklace of pigeon blood rubies and diamonds selling for as much as HK$44 million.

The star lot of the Nov. 28 watches sale is a rare Patek Philippe platinum repeating tourbillion wristwatch estimated to sell for as much as $550,000.

Christie’s previews are open to the public beginning Nov. 22 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Poly’s inaugural Hong Kong auction takes place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel with sales of watches, jewelry and Chinese modern and contemporary art on Nov. 24 and fine Chinese paintings and ceramics the following day.

(Frederik Balfour is a reporter-at-large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on art, Martin Gayford on art, Richard Vines on food and Zinta Lundborg’s interviews.

To contact the writer on the story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at or on Twitter @frederikbalfour.

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

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