5 Takeaways From the April 2017 Auctions

A rare jewel scores a new record and an Old Master unexpectedly takes flight at auction.

Roy Lichtenstein, Nude with Blue Hair (1994). Courtesy Phillips

Data collected from the artnet Price Database offers insight into the current state of the art market. In this monthly series, with the help of the artnet Price Database, we aim to fill you in on some of the more interesting facts, figures, and stories revealed by our data. In April, the most expensive piece of jewelry of all time was sold, and a prominent contemporary Chinese/French painter was the month’s top-selling artist.

Govaert Finck, <i>An old man at a casement</i> (1646) soared to $10.3 million on<br> an estimate of $2–3 million at Christie's New York on April 27. Courtesy Christie's.

Govaert Finck, An old man at a casement (1646) soared to $10.3 million on
an estimate of $2–3 million at Christie’s New York on April 27. Courtesy Christie’s.


  1. Hong Kong, New York, and London continue to generate the highest total auction sales. According to data from the artnet Price Database, all three locations have also shown an average decline of 15 percent in sell-through rates. New York has offered the most lots over the past three years, but has shown a decline in sell-through rates this year, dropping from 88 percent in 2016 to 61 percent in 2017.

    Cui Ruzhuo, Misty Autumn in the Drizzling Rain (2010). Courtesy Poly Auction.

    Cui Ruzhuo, Misty Autumn in the Drizzling Rain (2010). Courtesy Poly Auction.

  2. Poly Auction Hong Kong sold the most expensive fine art lot of the month on April 3, during the “Glossiness of Uncarved Jade” sale, a single-artist auction of work by Cui Ruzhuo. The 17-foot-wide ink drawing, titled Misty Autumn in the Drizzling Rain, sold for HK$141.6 million ($18.2 million). Poly Auction Hong Kong also holds the artist record for Cui, set in April 2016 ($39.6 million).

    The Pink Star Diamond. Courtesy of Sotheby's Geneva.

    The Pink Star Diamond. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Geneva.

  3. The most expensive decorative art lot sold in April was a pink diamond ring auctioned by Sotheby’s Hong Kong at The Pink Star: One of the World’s Great Natural Treasures on April 4. The single-lot sale set an auction record for jewelry. International jeweler Chow Tai Fook won the ring for HK$553 million ($71 million) via telephone bid.

    Zao Wou-ki, 17.07.67 (1967) Courtesy Sotheby's.

    Zao Wou-ki, 17.07.67 (1967) Courtesy Sotheby’s.

  4. Zao Wou-ki reigned in April with the highest total sales. Paintings and original prints were auctioned by Phillips New York, Bruun Rasmussen, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, and others for a total of $23.9 million.

    Papa Ibra Tall, Semeuse d’étoiles (Date). Courtesy Piasa.

  5. The artnet Price Database team added 15,490 new artists last month. Among them was Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, recognized to be one of the pioneers of contemporary African art, but rarely seen at auction. On April 20, Piasa sold his vibrant tapestry, Semeuse d’étoiles, for €20,800 ($22,375).

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.