Zao Wou-Ki's Abstraction set a record for the artist's work on Sunday (December 1) in Beijing, leading Sotheby's first major sale in mainland China.
The painting topped the previous record of $4.8m by an impressive 204.1%, making $14.6m. Estimated at $7.6m, the result is testament to the global demand for Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), with the market for his work stronger than ever following his death earlier this year.
A Chinese-French painter, Zao Wou-Ki's work bridges the gap between eastern and western styles and, having lived in Paris in the 1940s, is strongly influenced by the likes of Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Abstraction, painted in 1958, hails from his "oracle bone" period, and is considered among Zao Wou-Ki's most accomplished masterpieces.
In total, the sale - made possible by Sotheby's partnership with the state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group - realised $37m with 79% of lots sold, marking success for the auction house and paving the way for future sales in China.
The auction was held at the culmination of Sotheby's Beijing Art Week, which saw three selling exhibitions, including European furniture, diamonds and modern masters of western art, such as Picasso and Rembrandt.
More major auction houses are looking to hold auctions in mainland China in order to capture the thriving and lucrative Chinese market. Christie's held its first auction in Shanghai in September, offering a range of collectibles to test the demand in the country.
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