Hammering Up An Art Bubble

The identity of the buyer who paid a record price at auction for a Chinese contemporary art work has not been made pubic but we understand that it was either a Chinese or an Indonesian. Zhang Xiaogang’s 1988 triptych, Forever Lasting Love, went for HK$79 million ($10.1 million) at Sotheby’s Spring sale in Hong Kong, at which two other contemporary Chinese artists also realized record prices for their work. The previous record price was HK$75 million paid in 2008 for a work by Zeng Fanzhi.

Sotheby’s had under the hammer more than 100 works from the collection of Baron Guy Ullens, the retired Belgian businessman turned art collector who set up the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2007. They realized triple the pre-auction estimates in furious bidding from a packed auction room and on the telephone. The buyers were overwhelmingly Asian and predominantly Chinese, reflecting the growth of a cadre of newly rich buyers who have turned China into the world’s second largest art market after the U.S. As we have wondered before, is this the start of a renewed investment bubble?



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