8041 - Leading Asia: Sotheby's Asia 2016 half year sales achieve US$ 461.5 million, up 22%


Fine Chinese Paintings Auction Scene (Apr 5). Photo: Sotheby's.
Commenting on the 2016 first half year results, Kevin Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby’s Asia, says: ‘We are delighted by the exceptional half year results that reached 22% over last year. After more than four decades in Asia, Sotheby’s maintains an unrivalled ability to source the finest and rarest objects from notable collections around the world – a critical element to our success. Longstanding relationships with seasoned collectors worldwide led to a number of important consignments – from the Pilkington Collection of Chinese ceramics, to Zhang Daqian’s Peach Blossom Spring, to the Mi Yun Hall Collection of Classical Chinese Paintings – that drove remarkable results across collecting categories.

‘We are further encouraged by the growing presence of Asian collectors in our worldwide salerooms, where they are pushing the market forward – evidenced by their active participation in recent major sales of Contemporary Art in New York and London, among so many others,’ Mr. Ching added.

Results Beyond Expectations Sotheby’s Asia 2016 first half year results defied markets and beat expectations, reaching the highest levels in several seasons. In the first six months of 2016, Sotheby’s auction sales in Asia achieved HK$3.6 billion / US$461.5 million1, a season high total among international auction houses in the region. This represents a 22% increase on the same period last year and 145% above the total pre-sale low estimate. More than 80% of lots sold attained prices at or above their mid-estimate.

Setting Benchmarks Across Categories
In the first six months of 2016 in Asia, Sotheby’s sold three works of art for more than HK$100 million and set sixteen world auction records, capped by the masterwork from Zhang Daqian’s later period, Peach Blossom Spring, which sparked a 50-minute bidding battle that resulted in the work selling at HK$270.68 million / US$34.9 million, the highest price paid for any work of art at Sotheby’s Hong Kong this season. Sotheby’s continues its strong market leadership in Chinese Works of Art, which achieved a half-year auction total of more than HK$1 billion / US$130 million.

Global Participation
Extraordinary objects and collections drew the attention of collectors around the globe. Sotheby’s attracted participation of collectors from 65 countries. Particularly strong bidding was evident throughout Asia, including among Mainland Chinese collectors seeking rarity, quality and opportunity. Asian private collectors dominated Sotheby’s jewellery sales in Hong Kong, accounting for over 80% of the hammer total; they also established a much more significant presence in Sotheby’s worldwide jewellery sales, with the share of buyer hammer from Asian private clients more than doubling in the first half of 2016.

The Company continues to expand its client base, and 23% of buyers were new to Sotheby’s.

Asian Collectors: Eye on Top Lots
Asia-based clients were eager to compete at the top end of the art market. Among the top 20 lots auctioned by Sotheby’s worldwide in the first half of 2016, 8 lots were bought by buyers from Asia (40%) and 12 lots attracted buyers or bidders from Asia (60%).

Continued Growth of Asian Interest in Western Art
Asian collectors’ interest in Western art continues to deepen, proven by their expanding presence in Sotheby’s salerooms worldwide. Several selling categories, including 19th Century Paintings, Old Master Paintings, Impressionist and Modern Art, Contemporary Art as well as 20th Century Design, saw an increase in Asian buyers in the first half of 2016. The total number of Asian clients buying Western art at Sotheby’s grew by 12%.

Among the top ten lots in Sotheby’s London Contemporary Evening Sale in June, four were sold to Asian buyers, including the top lot – Jenny Saville’s Shift – that went to Shanghai’s Long Museum for a record £6.8 million. At New York’s May Evening Sale of Contemporary Art, Christopher Wool’s Untitled sold for US$13.9 million to Japanese collector, Yusaku Maezawa. In Hong Kong, Sotheby’s was thrilled to end the first half of the year with the sale, for first time ever at auction, of a complete set of 24 Picasso silver plates to a Japanese collector for a strong price of HK$19.88 million / US$2.5 million.

Sotheby’s continues to engage new and existing clients through uniquely curated exhibitions, lectures and art programmes. In the first half of 2016, Sotheby’s held four exhibitions showcasing diverse genres of art, including Sotheby’s first large-scale showcase of contemporary art by Hong Kong artists, Next Destination: Hong Kong; its first street art exhibition in Asia, They Would Be Kings, curated by Steve Lazarides and for which Sotheby’s gallery was playfully turned into a New York subway station; Asian Design: China, Japan, Korea, featuring a special section dedicated to KANJIAN; and Zheng Chongbin: Structures, an exhibition of unconventional ink art works by the American-Chinese artist. 
1 Figures include sale totals for Spring sale series and mid-season sales in Hong Kong