Sotheby's Hong Kong auction earns $400 Million, defying downturn

Sotheby’s beat expectations at the debut of the Hong Kong auction season with HK$3.1 billion (AED1.47 billion) in sales of paintings, jewelry, watches and Chinese works of art. The sales, which ended Wednesday, were boosted by the HK$270 million purchase of a Zhang Daqian painting by Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver known for collecting frequent flyer miles by using his AmEx card to pay for his purchases. "The results seemed to defy expectations," said Edie Hu, art advisory specialist at Citi Private Bank in Hong Kong. "I thought things would be softer." Sotheby’s salesrooms were full of Chinese buyers whose paddles shot into the air during the five-day auction, Kevin Ching, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s Asia, said in a press release. "If this is what a correction feels like, then I sure hope we have one in the autumn too, because our sales are up 17% over last spring," Ching said. Sotheby’s wasn’t the only auction house to see strong results. Mainland China-backed Poly Culture Group Corp. exceeded its pre-sale estimate of HK$700 million by earning HK$1.27 billion, boosted by the sale of a HK$236 million painting by Wu Guanzhong, an auction record for the artist. Bonhams and Seoul Auction also reported strong sales. (By Frederik Balfour/Bloomberg)

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