The sale, which featured 25 prominent paintings from this monumental collection, was expected to fetch at least HK$130m/US$16.7m, but made that estimate look cautious in the event.
The collection is internationally recognised as the most preeminent and comprehensive private collection of Zhang Daqian's paintings, assembled by the late Mr. Kao Ling-mei and his wife Jan Yun-bor since 1940s.
Not only does it comprise works of superb artistic value, the Mei Yun Tang Collection also chronicles the stylistic evolution of Zhang Daqian and stands as testament to the unwavering four-decade friendship between Zhang and the Kao's.
All the works in this sale were offered on the market for the very first time. Ahead of the auction Sotheby's Head of Fine Chinese Paintings, Mr. C. K. Cheung enthused:
"Sotheby's Hong Kong is extremely honoured to be entrusted by Mei Yun Tang with this series of Zhang Daqian masterpieces of exceptional quality and rarity, offering an opportunity for connoisseurs and collectors to appreciate the breadth and depth of Zhang's artistic vision.
"Each of the works on sale is a masterpiece in its own right; but what distinguishes the Mei Yun Tang Collection is the four decades of ardent friendship connecting the artist and the Kao family. The devotion of Zhang Daqian exudes from the brushstrokes, imbuing an even more profound significance to the works themselves, making them all the more valuable for connoisseurs."
Children Playing Under a Pomegranate Tree, which we focused on ahead of the event easily beat its substantial HK$15m-20m (around US$2.6m) listing to achieve HK$74.6m, but even this was left standing by Lotus and Mandarin Ducks which leapt from an identical estimate to a staggering HK$191m (just under US$24.6m).
This brought Sotheby's Hong Kong auction sales in the first half to HK$4.3bn (US$540m), and is another reminder that contemporary Chinese art can offer excellent alternative investments.