Sotheby’s Hong Kong banishes recession fears as spring sales set records

Ming Dynasty “Chicken cup” sells for €26.81 million

Tue, Apr 15, 2014, 01:05

There may be lingering fears of economic slowdown in Hong Kong, but these anxieties are not being felt at the auction houses.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong last week closed its five-day spring sale series, racking up HK$3.42 billion (€320 million) in sales, well ahead of pre-sale expectations of HK$2.5 billion (€230 million).

A total of 3,445 lots were sold throughout the week, and the auctions saw a world record for Chinese porcelain and a record for a jadeite necklace.

“We deployed our worldwide network to source artworks from a far-reaching 41 countries and to attract collectors from almost 50 countries to participate in our five days of sales,” said Kevin Ching, chief executive of Sotheby’s Asia.

Chinese businessman Liu Yiqian paid a record HK$281 million (€26.81 million) for a “chicken cup”, a 15th-century porcelain cup which Hong Kong-based dealer James Hennessy described as “the holy grail of ceramics”.

The Ming Dynasty cup measures just 8cm in diameter and earned the nickname for its depiction of a cockerel, his hen and their chicks, which is an allegorical representation of the Chenghua emperor (1465-82), the empress and his subjects.

Mr Liu and his wife Wang Wei will show the cup at their private Dragon Art Museum in Shanghai.

Bead necklace

“People, emperors and collectors have always aspired to own one of these, and the opportunity doesn’t come along often,” said Hennessy.

Other records at the spring sales included the HK$214 million (€19.91 million) the Cartier Collection paid for a jadeite bead necklace given to Woolworth retail heiress Barbara Hutton by her father in 1933.

There were also auction records for 15 artists, including Zhang Xiaogang, Yoshitomo Nara and S Sudjojono.

And wine sales were also healthy, with top tipples Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Henri Jayer wines attracting high prices.

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