The Spring Sale 2012 brought in a total of HK$468m (US$60m), beating its pre-sale estimate of HK$200m (US$25.6m) by 134.3%. A pair of rare gold screens by Qi Baishi was the top lot of the auction, achieving HK$70.1m (US$9m) against an estimate of HK$15-20m (US1.9-2.6m).
The exceptional screens were delicately painted by Qi Baishi, an influential Chinese painter, in 1922. Entitled Willows at the Riverside, they were produced during Baishi's most popular period and provide a superb example of the Chinese master's delicate style. Qi Baishi's paintings have previously set new records for contemporary Chinese painting, with one piece among 2011's most expensive artwork.
"The star lot of the sale was a very rare pair of gold screens by Qi Baishi depicting Chinese landscape and flowers which had spent much of its history in a Japanese collection," Said C.K Cheung, Head of Sotheby's Fine Chinese Paintings Department, "the pair was pursued by three very determined collectors and ended by tripling the pre-sale high estimate".
The Sotheby's Spring Sale saw a huge range of works from some of China's most prominent modern artists, many of which came from private European collections. An unusual piece entitled Galloping Horse by Xu Beihong, made a 135% increase on its estimate, selling for HK$6m (US$77,261). The piece bears a dedication to British Scientists Joseph and Dorothy Needham, who are noted for their work in Chinese Science.
The auction further emphasises the continuing strength of the Chinese art market, which has seen great success. Paul Fraser Collectibles has recently reported that China has overtaken the US as the world's largest art market, with a 30% share of global sales. We will continue to bring you the expert opinion and advice on investing in art and collectibles.