Christie’s Asian and Western 20th century and contemporary art auction raised $20 million (125 million yuan) in Shanghai this past Saturday and featured artwork by Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Zao Wou-Ki.
This is Christie’s second auction in mainland China. According to Bloomberg, the 61-lot auction attracted 600 bidders, but brought in less money than the $25 million raised by Christie’s first mainland China auction, which also included jadeite, wine, watches, and jewelry in the 39-lot auction.
While both Chinese auctions were much smaller than Christie’s typical higher profile auctions, the Shanghai auction was an important step in attracting China’s wealthy investors who have begun to seek out the work of prominent western artists in addition to Chinese modern and contemporary artists such as Zao Wou-Ki and Zeng Fanzhi.
“We have created a platform where Asian and Western art intersect,” said Jinqing Cai, president of Christie’s China.
In spite of the wealthy Chinese investors’ desire to seek out western artwork, foreign auction houses are still prohibited from much of the Chinese art and antiques market due to laws protecting cultural relics—The European Fine Art Foundation estimated worth of the Chinese art market to be $14.3 billion in 2012. In fact, internationally-sourced lots will be sold under bond with customs duties and taxes being deferred unless the items are to remain in China.
The most expensive piece sold at the Shanghai auction was Andy Warhol’s acrylic and silkscreen inks on canvas “Self-Portrait With Skeleton Arm and Madonna after Evard Munch,” which sold for 12 million yuan. The most expensive Chinese artwork was an abstract painting by Zao Wou-Ki, which sold for 10.2 million yuan and was the third most expensive piece sold overall. Of the most expensive ten pieces of artwork sold, five were Chinese and five were western.
image source: christie’s