Bloomberg accounts for Sotheby’s very strong 4.2bn HKD ($540m) Hong Kong sales cycle:
“We haven’t seen the room so full or so positive or so buoyant for a while,” said London-based dealer Daniel Eskenazi.
Eskenazi, who was outbid on a Chenghua-era “Palace” Bowl that sold for $18.2 million, said more mainland buyers show up each season, and now that China’s new political leadership is established, they feel more comfortable buying.
Property developer Zheng Huaxing bought the Buddha, a Yongle Gilt-Bronze seated figure, setting a record for a Chinese sculpture at auction. After the winning bid, Zheng stood up, pressed his hands together in prayer and bowed three times to the saleroom. The Palace bowl also went to a property developer whose dealer, Hong Kong-based William Chak, bid on his behalf.
“He wanted this piece desperately,” said Chak. “He was so anxious he didn’t sleep at all last night.”
Chak said his client, who is building a private museum in Hebei province outside Beijing, typifies the new breed of collectors: conspicuous, deep pocketed and determined.
“The new wealth in China is different,” Chak said. “They don’t just want to collect and enjoy, they want to be No. 1.”