Sotheby’s Hong Kong Fine Chinese Paintings sale brought in HK$304,897,000 ($39m.) Le-Min Lim looked at the top lot:
An ink depiction by Fu Baoshi of three men mulling over a game of Go fetched HK$38.7 million ($5 million) in Hong Kong, the priciest item at an auction of classical Chinese paintings marked by fervent mainland buying.
“Chess Playing,” painted by Fu (1904-1965) seven decades ago, was won by Beijing-based antique collector and dealer Wu Qun after a 10-minute tug-of-war that escalated at a HK$2 million-a-bid clip. The piece was sold for more than five times its top estimate and was one of several fiercely contested items at yesterday’s packed sale that tallied HK$418 million, the most in this category for host Sotheby’s.
“The prices are reasonable for such quality,” said Wu, an auction regular who bought a 6-century-old Tibetan stembowl for HK$23 million last April, in an interview at the venue. […]
“As long as the Chinese economy keeps growing, prices of these classics will go up,” said Zhou Xin, a Shanghai-based dealer. “Now that people realize what cultural treasures these are, there will be no turning back.”
At one stage of yesterday’s auction, a crowd of about 100 bidders and bystanders clogged the doorway of the salesroom that seated about 300 people. Most were from the mainland, with a smattering of Taiwanese and Japanese.