$10M triptych sets Chinese modern art record

AP News
Posted: Apr 03, 2011 11:57 PM
$10M triptych sets Chinese modern art record

A three-panel painting by artist Zhang Xiaogang has set a record auction price for Chinese contemporary art, selling for 79 million Hong Kong dollars ($10 million).

Sotheby's, which ran the Hong Kong auction, said the triptych, "Forever Lasting Love," was sold Sunday.

The price broke the previous record of $9.7 million set by Zeng Fanzhi's "Mask Series 1996 No. 6," which was auctioned in Hong Kong in 2008.

"Forever Lasting Love" was one of 105 artworks belonging to Belgian collector Guy Ullens and his wife Myriam that went on the block over the weekend. Sotheby's said Monday that works from "The Ullens Collection The Nascence of Avant-Garde China" brought in $54.77 million, much higher than the $12.7 million to $16.7 million presale estimate.

Sotheby's did not identify the buyer of the painting, which features numerous nearly nude figures on a desert landscape surrounded by symbols such as a goat's head, an emaciated ram and a swaddled baby on a leaf.

Zhang's 1988 work is "a monumental museum-quality work from a defining period of the Chinese avant-garde," Evelyn Lin, Sotheby's head of contemporary Asian art, said in a statement.

Hong Kong has become the world's third biggest auction hub after London and New York as newly wealthy Chinese splurge on items such as paintings, wine and watches. Interest from overseas collectors in Chinese art is also growing as the country's economy booms.

Sotheby's said the weekend auction also set records for works by three other Chinese artists. Zhang Peili's "Series 'X?' No. 3" sold for $3 million, Wang Guangyi's "Mao Zedong: P2" fetched $2.5 million and Geng Jianyi's "Two People Under a Light" brought in $2.4 million.