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The Hong Kong Top 10

[24 Mar 2017]

Discover the best sales every Friday! Every other Friday, Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking This week, our ranking reveals the 10 most expensive works of art ever sold in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong – Year 2016 – Top 10
Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) $39 577 200 The Grand Snowing Mountains (飛雪伴春) (2013) 2016-04-04 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
2 ZHANG Daqian (1899-1983) $34 917 720 Peach Blossom Spring (桃源图) (1982) 2016-04-05 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
3 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) $30 444 000 The Zhou Village (周莊) (1997) 2016-04-04 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
4 WU Guanzhong (1919-2010) $18 252 239 Lotus in the Autumn Wind (秋風搖翠) (2016) 2016-10-03 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
5 ZHANG Daqian (1899-1983) $15 110 667 Eight horses (八骏图) (1755) 2016-05-31 – Paragon International Auction Hong Kong
6 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) $13 689 179 A Lotus Pond (荷塘) (1997) 2016-10-03 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
7 ZENG Fanzhi (1964-) $9 906 008 Album of Nature(个山杂画册) (1684) 2016-05-29 – China Guardian Hong Kong
8 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) $9 103 584 Untitled (Vert émeraude) (翠绿森林) (c.1950) 2016-05-28 – Christie’s Hong Kong
9 LANG Shih-Ning (1688-1766) $7 605 099 Pink Nude on Floral Sheet (碎花毯上的粉紅裸女) (1930′) 2016-10-03 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
10 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) $7 033 080 Feet 2 (1999) 2016-04-03 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
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The Chinese art market is the most dynamic on the planet, with 277,500 works sold last year and 38% of the worldwide sales revenue, placing China first in the world for fine art sales with $4.79 billion (the US has 28% of the world market and the United Kingdom 17%). At the centre of this market, Hong Kong is an integral part of the People’s Republic of China and hosts several of the most prestigious European and North American galleries . The city also welcomes one of three editions of Art Basel, the most selective western contemporary art fair. This international openness makes it a unique marketplace, capable of attracting the best of Asian as well as Western art, although Western artworks are not yet very well represented in the auction market. Calligraphy and traditional painting still represent the bulk of the Chinese market, with 92% of the lots sold, amounting to 81% of sales. However, oil painting benefits from the rise of Hong Kong, notably with paintings by Wu Gubanzhong and Zeng Fanzhi in this ranking.

Hong Kong – TOP 10 – All years
Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) 39 577 200 The Grand Snowing Mountains (飛雪伴春) (2013) 2016-04-04 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
2 ZHANG Daqian (1899-1983) 34 917 720 Peach Blossom Spring (桃源图) (1982) 2016-04-05 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
3 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) 30 444 000 Landscapes (葳蕤雪意) (2013) 2015-04-06 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
4 WU Guanzhong (1919-2010) 30 444 000 The Zhou Village (周莊) (1997) 2016-04-04 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
5 ZHANG Daqian (1899-1983) 24 551 210 Lotus and Mandarin Ducks (1947) 2011-05-31 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
6 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) 23 717 599 Landscape in Snow (丹枫白雪) (2006) 2014-04-07 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
7 ZENG Fanzhi (1964-) 23 276 760 The Last Supper (2001) 2013-10-05 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
8 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) 18 252 239 Lotus in the Autumn Wind (秋風搖翠) (2016) 2016-10-03 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
9 LANG Shih-Ning (1688-1766) 17 724 600 Imperial portrait of consort Chunhui () 2015-10-07 – Sotheby’s Hong Kong
10 CUI Ruzhuo (1944-) 17 276 970 Landscapes (山水) (2013) 2015-10-05 – Poly Auction Hong Kong
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Two auction houses stand out: Sotheby’s, the world’s second largest auction house with $2.888 billion in annual turnover (behind Christie’s at over $3 billion) and China’s Poly International, third in the world with more than $988m annual turnover. The exceptional results they recorded over the last two years prove how the Hong Kong market has been resilient and remained independent despite the general contraction of the Chinese domestic market, as seven of the top ten Hong Kong sales took place over the 2015-2016 period.

Ink and oil

The sales of Cui Ruzhuo, born in 1944, take up half of the ranking; Cui Ruzhuo indeed uses ink and active buyers in Hong Kong favour contemporary art linked to cultural tradition. The auction house Poly International firmly encourages his sales, the goal being to make him a new star in the art market. A job well done, with a top sale of $39.5 million, which is the ninth best sale at auction in 2016 behind Monet, Picasso, De Kooning, Rubens and Modigliani. Cui Ruzhuo is also ranked ahead of the most renowned ink draftsman in China: Zhang Daqian, of whom the no less famous Chinese artist Xu Beihong said « you see a talent like Zhang Daqian once every five hundred years ». Embodying Chinese aesthetic values, the scholar Zhang Daqian is now China’s best-selling and most valued artist, with 885 works of art auctioned last year for a total of $355 million. His absolute record was in April 2016 with a 1982 work, Peach Blossom Spring, sold for $34.9 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong,

Faced with the enthusiasm for works in ink, works painted on canvas are the subject of increasingly dynamic sales, testifying to the growing interest of collectors. The latest sales for Wu Guanzhong, San Yu, Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wu-Ki and other modern masters of 20th-century art are expected to create a durable trend in the future. The Zhou Village by Wu Guanzhong, a large oil on canvas from 1997 sold for $30.4 million at Poly Auction Hong Kong, the best result for an oil painting in China in 2016. The youngest and most international artist of all is Zeng Fanzhi, who has been a strong player on the Hong Kong market since the sale of his painting The Last Supper (2001) from the Ullens collection, a work that sold for more than $23 million in October 2013.

Chinese auction houses are beginning to incorporate Western artists into their catalogues, including Poly Auctions, which organised the auction « Dialogue: From the Yuan Dynasty People Hunting in the Fall to Picasso » in Shanghai in 2016 with works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Morandi. The Chinese market is opening up and expanding, so Hong Hong is expected to see new Western artists in its rankings in the years to come. Especially since the American auction house Phillips has set up a satellite operation there. It organised the first sale of 20th century and contemporary art sales in November 2016 with works by major artists, both Asian (Yoshitomo Nara, Zeng Fanzhi, Ufan Lee) and Western artists (Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter and Anish Kapoor). The opening shots have been fired…

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