Lotus, a set of four traditional hanging scrolls by eminent Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), led Christie's auction of Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on May 27.
The set of scrolls, which feature a series of flowering lotuses, made $10.4m. The record price for the artist at auction remains $24.6m, which was paid at Sotheby's in 2011 for a single hanging scroll: Lotus and Mandarin Ducks.
Christie's reports the Hong Kong sale room as seeing intense bidding throughout the session. Lotus brought a 436.7% increase on its $1.9m top estimate.
Christie's Ben Kong comments: "Throughout the previews and auctions, we saw a resurgence of interest in Chinese classical paintings, as well as great enthusiasm for modern paintings.
"Renowned masters were much sought after, especially Zhang Daqian's Lotus."
Known as the "Picasso of the East", interest in Daqian's work reached a heady climax in 2011, when the value of the artist's work at auction soared.
It has since continued to prove exceptionally popular: in June 2012, a quintessential landscape by the artist trounced its $189,900 valuation, bringing $415,980 - a 119.1% increase on estimate.
China currently has the world's third highest number of millionaires, according to Boston Consulting Group's 2012 Global Wealth report, while last year's Wealth Insights report from Barclays posits that Chinese interest in collectible assets is greater than that in the West.
China's most affluent individuals have 17% of their wealth placed in treasure assets such as art, wine and stamps - either as status symbols or for the purpose of portfolio diversification - compared with just 9% in the US and 7% in the UK, according to Barclays' report.
Duly, international interest in Chinese (and Asian) collectibles has soared. As Antique and Collecting magazine reports: "A whole new sector of the art and antiques trade has sprung up to service this Oriental juggernaut, with attendant fairs and specialist events."
For more information on the investment potential of the art market, see Paul Fraser Collectibles' free guide to investing in art and photography.
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