On Bloomberg, Le-min Lim tells the story of one woman’s nine-figure art buying spree that carried through Christie’s weekend of Asian art sales:
The bidder was Shanghai-based Wang Wei, who has spent more than 1 billion yuan ($146 million) this year with her stock- investor husband, Liu Yiqian, on a buying spree of Asian paintings as they prepare to open a private museum in the Chinese city next year, said Zhao Xu, executive director of Poly International Auction Co. On the 2009 China rich list run by Hurun Report, Liu ranks No. 176 with a net worth of $740 million. Wang wouldn’t say how much she has spent on artworks this year. […]
In October, Liu paid a record $11 million for a Qing Dynasty imperial throne with carved dragons at Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale. This month, Liu paid about 170 million yuan ($25 million) at Beijing’s Poly auction for a Ming Dynasty scroll by Wu Bin, the most for a Chinese painting, said Poly’s Zhao. At this auction, Wang paid HK$7.2 million for a scarlet-and-pink acrylic-on-canvas by Chinese contemporary artist Liu Ye, titled “I Always Wanted to be a Sailor.”
Liu and Wang typify an emerging group of mainland Chinese art buyers that are paying top prices for antiques. Wu Qun, a Beijing-based buyer who paid HK$23 million in April for a Xuande era (1426-1435) blue-and-white stem bowl with Tibetan script at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction, predicts mainland buyers will start paying “hundreds of millions of yuan” for the best Chinese antiques in the coming years. American collectors remain the strongest buyers in this category of art.