Mon, Nov 26, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Christie's auctions works by Chinese, Taiwanese in HK

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Works by a Chinese and a Taiwanese artist were sold for a combined HK$71 million (US$9 million) as Christie's International kicked off Asia's most important art auction this year in Hong Kong.

The sale, which runs for five days, features Chinese 20th century art and Asian contemporary paintings today. Antiques, jewelry and ceramics will go on sale later this week.

The abstract oil on canvas Et la Terre Etait Sans Forme (And the Earth Was Without Form), by Paris-based Zao Wou-ki (趙無極), sold for HK$26 million, above the artist's record of HK$20 million.

The late Taiwanese artist Chen Cheng-po's (陳澄波) Sunset at Danshui, meanwhile, fetched HK$45 million.

Final prices would not be available until late last night, Christie's spokeswoman Yvonne So said.

Highlights included Cai Guo-qiang's (蔡國強) set of 14 gunpowder on paper works, which could reach HK$36 million, estimates by Christie's showed.

A Ming Dynasty blue-and-white jar depicting boys in a garden may fetch as much as HK$30 million.

The Hong Kong art auction features 2,400 items worth up to HK$1.8 billion, Christie's said.

Earlier this month, China Guardian Auctions Co said it sold Red Cliff, a Ming Dynasty painting, for 79.5 million yuan (US$10.7 million), a record for a Chinese picture.

Last month, Yue Minjun's (岳敏君) Execution fetched ?2.9 million pounds (US$5.9 million) in London, the highest price paid for a Chinese contemporary work. The artist's 1990 Big Ear and 1999 series Life went on sale yesterday.

Still, declines in Asia's major stock markets, including a 9 percent drop in Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index this month, could temper demand at the auctions. Asians accounted for 76 percent of buyers at Christie's May sale in the city, of whom 60 percent were from China and Taiwan, So said.

"There might be more caution than a few months ago," said Sandra Walters, a Hong Kong-based art consultant.

Yang Ou, a Beijing-based art dealer, said stock-market swings have "a profound effect" on Chinese enthusiasm for art purchases, which has "waned slightly" in recent weeks.

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