Sotheby’s Reports Half-Year Asia Sales Are Up 22 Percent

Robust growth extends beyond traditional art.

Cheung Chiu-kwan, Sotheby's head of Chinese paintings department, gives details of a Chinese painting by Zhang Daqian entitled Morning mist in Spring during a press preview in Hong Kong on September 1, 2011. Courtesy of LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images.

Sotheby’s released a report highlighting the strength of its sales in Asia for the first six months of 2016, noting the growing presence of Asian collectors in its salerooms around the world.

A notable sign of market health in the region is the 80 percent rate of sold lots that attained prices at or above mid-estimate. During this period, Sotheby’s Asia sales reached $461.5 million, a 22 percent increase over the comparable period last year.

“Longstanding relationships with seasoned collectors worldwide led to a number of important consignments that drove remarkable results across collecting categories,” said Sotheby’s Asia CEO Kevin Ching. He added that Asian buyers are “pushing the market forward—evidenced by their active participation in recent major sales of contemporary art in New York and London, among so many others.”

A woman looks at an artwork by Tsang Tsou Choi (also known as "king of Kowloon") during a preview of the exhibition titled " They would be kings" held by the Sotheby's auction house in Hong Kong on March 18, 2016. Courtesy of PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images.

A woman looks at an artwork by Tsang Tsou Choi (also known as “king of Kowloon”) during a preview of the exhibition titled “They would be kings” held at Sotheby’s auction house in Hong Kong on March 18, 2016. Courtesy of PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images.

Three works of art sold for more than HK $100 million ($12.8 million) and 16 records were set, including Zhang Daqian‘s Peach Blossom Spring (1982), which sold for HK $270.7 million ($34.9 million) after a 50-minute bidding war.

Particularly strong bidding was evident throughout Asia, including mainland China, Sotheby’s reports. In fact, among the top 20 lots auctioned, eight were bought by buyers from Asia.

Meanwhile, Asian collectors’ interest in Western art continues to grow. Departments that saw increased demand from Asian buyers included 19th Century paintings, Old masters Impressionist and modern art, contemporary, and 20th century design.

Four of the highest lots at this past June’s London contemporary sales were sold to Asian buyers, including the highest lot, Jenny Saville‘s Shift (1996-97), which sold to the Liu Yiqian’s Long Museum in Shanghai for $9 million (£6.8 million).

Zhang Daqian Peach Blossom Spring (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Zhang Daqian, Peach Blossom Spring (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.


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