HONG KONG.- Bonhams
Hong Kong 2011 Spring Auctions held from 23 to 26 May at the Island Shangri-La Hotel came to a successful conclusion with exceptional results achieved at every sale. The seven sales rang up a total of over HK$212 million (16.5 million GBP), the first time the auction house reaches the magic milestone of HK$200 million (15.6 million GBP) in its four years of operation in Hong Kong.
The Fine & Rare Wines and Rarest Whisky Auction held on 24 May saw spirited bidding by enthusiastic fine wine and whisky collectors with 92% of the wine lots sold for a total value of HK$8,686,048 (678,430 GBP). The top lots are Burgundian wines, with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Assortments occupying four of the top ten lots. The top two lots are two cases of DRC assortments from vintage 1999 and 1996 which sold for HK$261,800 (20,447 GBP) and HK$202,300 (15,780 GBP) respectively. Achieving the third highest price are 12 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild 1996 which sold for HK$190,400 (14,870 GBP).
As expected, all 71 lots of rare whisky were snapped up, with the top two lots being a bottle of Macallan Select Reserve-1946-52 year old and a bottle of Macallan-1938-Red Stripe which sold for HK$45,220 (3,531 GBP) each. Commanding the third highest price was a bottle of Macallan Royal Marriage, a special vatting of spirit distilled in 1948 and 1961, respectively the year His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana were born, to commemorate their royal wedding in 1981. This special bottle sold for HK$23,800 (1848 GBP). The whisky auction raised a total of HK$69,260 GBP).
25 May was a blockbuster day with the sale of Chinese art. The two-single owner collections achieved spectacular results with another Golden Gavel sale of the legendary Mary and George Bloch Collection of Chinese Snuff bottles: Part III. All 142 lots sold out for a total of HK$38,361,600 (3 million GBP). As anticipated, top price was paid for a gold-ground enamelled copper Imperial snuff bottle, manufactured in the Beijing Palace Workshops probably in the 1770s, which sold for HK$4.2 million (327.946 GBP) to a private Asian buyer (lot 141, estimate in excess of HK$3.5 million). The sale of Part I and Part II of this snuff bottle collection also achieved Golden Gavel status, often settling world-record prices.
The sale of the Q Collection of Exquisite Soapstones saw active bidders from London, the US, Singapore and even Thailand competing with more traditional South East Asian buyers of soapstones, ensuring that almost all the top lots were sold at prices often exceeding their high estimates. The top price was achieved by a pair of superbly decorated inlaid panels showing mythical landscapes, which sold to a Chinese buyer at HK$3.8 million (296,708 GBP) (lot 275, estimate HK$600-800,000). The sale achieved a total of HK$21.8 million (1.7 million GBP) and it is very unlikely that a collection of this quality and range of soapstone carving will ever again come to auction.
The Fine Chinese Works of Art auction saw exceptional results with sales totalling over HK$48 million (3.7 million GBP). The highlight of the sale was undoubtedly the jades from the John and Berthe Ford Collection, which sold for outstanding prices. The top lot was 417, a rare yellow jade incense burner and cover from the mid Qing dynasty, which was sold for an extraordinary HK$8,384,000 (654,558 GBP), an astounding forty times its estimate of HK$200,000 to 300,000. A superb white jade landscape vase and cover from the Qianlong period (lot 427) from the same collection soared five times its estimate of HK$800,000 1,200,000 to sell at HK$4,560,000 (356,014 GBP).
Building on the success of the Q Collection of Soapstones, a rare and finely carved shanbodong figure of Pindola, by Yang Yuxan during the early Qing dynasty (Lot 366), sold for HK$8,340,000 (651,131 GBP), 36 times its estimate of HK$230,000 to 390,000.
Meanwhile, the collection of archaic bronze weapons from a distinguished connoisseur offered without reserve achieved a sale total of over HK$3 million (234,212 GBP). This was the first time such an esoteric category had been tested at auction in Hong Kong and it had proven to be a great success.
The sale of Fine Chinese Paintings and Contemporary Asian Art saw the demand for paintings by renowned modern Chinese artists growing stronger than ever, with prices often exceeding their estimates. The top lot was 630, Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)s Queen Mother of the West, which sold for HK$3,600,000 (281,039 GBP), three times its estimate of HK$1,000,000 to 1,500,000. Selling for close to five times its estimate was lot 663, Mountain Trip by Wu Guangzhong (1919-2010) which went for HK$1,920,000 (14,989 GBP). Another great artist whose work is eagerly sought after is Lin Fengmian (1900-1991). His painting Still Life (lot 637) was snapped up for HK$1,860,000 (145,194 GBP) (against an estimate of HK$500,000 800,000.
On 26 May, diamonds and precious stones proved to be a girls best friend at the Fine Jewellery and Jadeite auction which achieved a sale total of HK$50.2 million (3.9 million GBP). The most expensive lot sold was 822, an important sapphire and diamond ring featuring an oval mixed-cut sapphire weighing 22.98 carats, flanked by a pair of half moon-cut diamonds mounted in platinum, which went for HK$6,144,000 (479,689 GBP) (estimate: HK$3,500,000 - $4,500,000). Commanding the second highest price was lot 859, a 8.37 carats marquise-cut single-stone diamond ring by Bulgari which sold for HK$4,912,000 (383,501 GBP), while a pair of Art Deco diamond earrings, circa 1920 (lot 785) sold for HK$3,600,000 (281,097 GBP).
Rare watches dominated the top lots at the Modern Wristwatches auction. Commanding top dollar in the HK$14 million (1.1 million GBP) sale was lot 1021, an unique Vacheron Constantin 18ct gold diamond, ruby and emerald manual wind hunter pocket watch Myaterieuse, circa 1988, which sold for HK$1,800,000 (140,553 GBP). Coming in second was lot 1024, a Patek Philippe very fine 18ct gold manual wind perpetual calendar wristwatch with chronograph, ref 5970J, circa 2009 which went for HK$1,080,000 (84,338 GBP). Another Patek Philippe watch, this time a fine and extremely rare 18ct gold manual wind chronograph wristwatch, ref 130, circa 1939, sold for HK$864,000 (67,470 GBP).
Another May, another milestone, concluded Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia. This series of seven auctions saw the total for Bonhams Hong Kong exceed the magic HK$200 million (15.6 million GBP) mark for the first time. We set ourselves a target four years ago when we opened in Hong Kong that we would remorselessly grow the value of our sales and improve the quality of the property we offer each time. This new record total demonstrates that we are taking full advantage of an unprecedentedly buoyant Chinese market to achieve our core aims. We saw some exceptional prices in most of our key sale categories and achieved the unique result of selling 100% of one category, Chinese snuff bottles, for the third sale in a row, which has never been achieved by an auction house in Hong Kong before. The international market is strong, demand is intelligent and selective, but widely based, and we are already looking for consignments to build next Novembers auctions on this very solid week of May sales.
Once again mainland Chinese buyers dominated our client bidder profile, capturing approximately 73% of our sold total by value across the sales. This reflects a significant increase from the percentage in our earlier sales, and is an effect of the two successful and well-attended preview exhibitions during April in Beijing and Shanghai. Our confidence in this market and our optimism for the future is most clearly displayed in our decision to open our first mainland representative office in Beijing in July 2011. This increases our Asian regional network of offices in Taipei, Tokyo and Singapore, with our auction headquarters remaining firmly based in Hong Kong.