Zao Wou-ki World Record price set at Sotheby's Hong Kong Chinese art auction

As we've reported, Sotheby's Hong Kong has been having great success in its wine department, holding the latest in a series of 'white glove' auctions (that is: no lots were refused), but its art department is doing just as well.

Their 20th Century Chinese Art Autumn Sale 2011 has concluded, totalling HK$337m (US$43m) - nearly double the pre-sale estimate. This was largely thanks to one artist: Zao Wou-ki, with seven of the top 12 lots being due to that artist. All sold to private Asian collectors.

The top lot, 10.1.68 made HK$68,980,000 (US$8,843,590), smashing the previous record for one of Wou-ki's works. It sold to a woman in a black lace dress.

Sylvie Chen, Head of Sotheby's 20th Century Chinese Art Department, commented:

"The strong market response to Sotheby's Spring sale of 20th Century Chinese Art allowed us to source a remarkably deep group of works by the influential Chinese Modern Master Zao Wou-ki from collectors across Europe and the United States, which were fresh to the market.

"Zao Wou-ki was a reformer in the history of Chinese Art and was one of the first Chinese artists to be recognised outside China.

Zao Wou-ki 10-6-68 art abstract painting
Zao Wou-ki's abstract and powerful 10.6.68 painting

"Today collectors from across Asia competed for a selection of his work from figuration to abstraction, which covered over 45 years of his career, especially coveted works from the 1950's to the 1990's, and seven of the top twelve works in today's sale were by the artist.

"The top lot of the sale 10.1.68 was a stunning abstract work from a key year in his career. In addition to having had an extraordinary exhibition history, having appeared on exhibition in the San Francisco Museum of Art, it was also well-published.

"Its extraordinary appeal to collectors was evident from the moment it appeared on the auction block as no fewer than seven collectors pursued it, driving its final price to a level which smashed the artist's previous record."

Zao Wou-ki's works have consistently shown their value this year. For example, his 5.6.63 achieved $2.3m at Christie's in May this year.

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