Asia's investors help set 12 records for Chinese artists at Christie's


It has been a magnificent few days for Christie's Hong Kong art department.

On May 30, a pair of gold singing bird pistols, the only known matching pair in the world, achieved $5.8m.

The result came a day after Christie's concluded its $97m two-day Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art sale, which included 12 world auction records for Chinese artists.

This is perhaps the clearest evidence yet that economic growth in China and the rest of Asia is having a profound impact on the art market, as high-net worth individuals in the region seek to make significant alternative investments.

"The art market tends to follow wealth and the greatest wealth is being created in Asia," Magnus Renfrew, director of the Hong Kong International Art Fair, told Bloomberg.

Zeng Fanzhi's Leopard made $5.2m

A recent report by the Hurun Research Institute claims that one in 1,400 Chinese citizens is now a millionaire, while figures from the Boston Consulting Group indicate that there were 670,000 Chinese millionaires in 2009, up from 190,000 in 2004.

For as long as China's economy keeps growing, expect increasing numbers of artworks, both local and international, to head east.

Chinese businessman Zhao Zhijunbough bought fellow countryman Zeng Fanzhi's The Leopard for $5.2m at the Christie's sale, while Zao Wou-ki's 5.6.63 achieved $2.3m.

Eric Chang, the international Director of Chinese 20th Century and Asian Contemporary Art, said the strong results "demonstrate the Asian art market's move towards alignment with the global contemporary and modern art markets".

An artwork by Qi Baishi made $65.5m at a China Guardian auction last week, a record for a contemporary Chinese painting.


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