Sotheby’s wasted no time getting out a press release on the sale of Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower seeds tonight:
Tonight, the first lot in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, 100 kilograms of Ai Weiwei’s handmade porcelain Sunflower Seeds (Kui Hua Zi) – the first of the artist’s ‘Sunflower Seed’ installations ever to appear at auction – sold for £349,250 / $559,394 (£3.50 per seed) – more than four times the pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000. Four bidders both in the saleroom and on the telephones battled to acquire 100,000 of the artist’s seeds.
Earlier today, the Telegraph reported speculation that the buyer would be from the Mainland:
According to Helen Ho, director of Bespoke Art Advisory, a London-based art consultancy that specialises in contemporary Chinese art, the seeds are hugely significant and it seems probable that they will return to Ai’s homeland.
“Recent Chinese contemporary art is all going to mainland Chinese buyers,” says Ho. “Ai Weiwei is quite a controversial figure, so it will be fascinating to see who buys it. A lot of his art is large-scale installations, which don’t necessarily sell at auction, which may distort prices.”
Would You Pay £120,000 for a Bag of Seeds? (Telegraph)