Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-ki’s oil painting titled “Abstraction” sold for $14.7 million, including fees, at Sotheby’s in Beijing today, setting an auction record for the artist.
Sotheby’s, holding its first commercial auction in mainland China, sold 227 million yuan worth of modern and contemporary Chinese art, compared with a pre-sale estimate of 123 million yuan.
Zao’s work, painted in 1958, was sold by the Art Institute of Chicago and carried a pre-sale high estimate of 45 million yuan. The previous record for Zao, who died in April, was $11 million, set on Oct. 5 at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.
The buyer was a mainland Chinese collector who competed with at least four other bidders in the room and on the telephone, illustrating how important Chinese clients have become for auction houses.
“This shows that there are strong buyers on the mainland,” said Pascal de Sarthe, a Hong Kong-based dealer. “Five years ago, they wouldn’t have been buying at the top end.”
Zao’s work was the most expensive of the 141 lots offered.
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