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Diamond Makes Record $10 Million, Vase $21.6 Million in Sotheby's HK auction

Frederik Balfour BusinessWeek 10/06/2011 19:11
Diamond Makes Record $10 Million, Vase $21.6 Million in Sotheby's HK auction - Sotheby’s - Hong Kong - art - auction

Chinese bidders pushed prices for Ming and bling to records at a Hong Kong auction last night, undaunted by volatility on stock markets across the globe.

The Sotheby’s salesroom erupted in applause after a 6.01 carat blue diamond ring sold for HK$79.1 million ($10 million), the most paid at auction per carat for such a stone.

Competitive bidding at the porcelain sale next door pushed the price on a Ming dynasty porcelain vase to HK$167.8 million, or $21.6 million, including buyer’s premium -- an auction record for a work from that period. The vase fetched more than twice its higher estimate of HK$80 million at hammer prices.

“Chinese art is still going strong,” said London-based art dealer William Qian, who bid unsuccessfully on the vase. He dismissed concern about declining shares and that the world economy is going to be stagnant: “People still buying suggests this is a very healthy form of art to invest in.” Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has slumped by 29.5 percent this year.

The blue-and-white vase was the subject of a 10-minute battle between two Asian telephone bidders. It was one of 32 lots of Imperial porcelain out of 40 works from the Meiyintang private collection that sold in about an hour, raising HK$560 million, compared with an estimate of HK$430 million.

Sotheby’s raised another HK$402 million from selling fine Chinese ceramics and works of art, including imperial seals and lacquer yesterday.