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A History-Making Night in Hong Kong for Modern and Contemporary Art Anchored by World Record Pink Diamond

With a realised combined total of HK$1.45 billion (US$184.2 million), Sotheby’s saw an electrifying evening of modern and contemporary art go under the hammer in Hong Kong, anchored by the world record single-lot sale of the Williamson Pink Star diamond.

Hot on the heels of Sotheby’s first auction of Modern & Contemporary Art in Singapore in 15 years that raked in the highest total for any Sotheby’s sale in the city-state, and sturdy day sales on 6 October, Hong Kong’s evening auctions on 7 October, which witnessed a packed sale room, further cemented the robust position of Sotheby’s in Asia’s thriving art market. The three marquee sales on Friday evening achieved a combined total of HK$1.45 billion (US$184.2 million), taking home a sell-through rate of 97.1 percent.

Anchoring the evening – and quite literally the crown jewel of the night – was the spectacular history-making single-lot sale of the Williamson Pink Star diamond. Weighing 11.15 carats and bearing one of the rarest colours to naturally occur in diamonds, the Williamson Pink Star is the second largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond to ever go under the hammer. Electrifying energy filled the room as a bidding battle went underway, with the Williamson Pink Star quickly surpassing pre-sale high estimates. After an intense 20-minute face off, the final winning bid went to a gentleman in the room for a staggering HK$453,223,000 (US$57,736,078) – setting an exceptional new world record price per carat for any diamond or gemstone and becoming the second most valuable jewel or gemstone ever sold at auction.

Among Chinese works of modern art, notable lots include Pan Yuliang’s Bouquet de chrysanthèmes roses, painted in 1944, which brought in HK$6,048,000 (US$770,455) and sold to a bidder in the room. Respected as one of the first female students at Shanghai Art Academy, and later, the academy’s first ever Chinese female professor, still life flowers were a prime subject in her decades-long career, with chrysanthemums particularly prominent. Other high performers of modern Asian art include Sanyu’s Branches, the only flower painting among more than 130 known to be created by the master where the vase is placed to the right side, which sold to a phone bidder with Wendy Lin, Deputy Chairman, Asia, for HK$86,692,000 (US$11,043,694) after a long 13-minute battle; and a two-metre canvas, 15.02.65, by Zao Wou-Ki that fetched HK$77,500,000 (US$9,872,725).

Affirming the proliferating interest in Southeast Asian modern masters, the sale had commenced earlier that evening with Singaporean artist Georgette Chen who is currently one of the most sought-after female artists in Asia. Chen’s Pansies, painted while the artist was residing in Shanghai from 1940–1947, fetched HK$7,434,000 (US$947,017). Bids for Vietnamese works of art were fast and furious. A fierce five-minute bidding battle for The et Sympathie, a glorious painting depicting a leisurely afternoon tea in a vibrant garden, rendered in a style reminiscent of Impressionism and created during the artist’s Findlay Period, saw the painting soar above its high estimate, selling for HK$10,660,000 (US$1,357,977) to an online bidder. Le Pho’s Pivoines au vase hammered for HK$3,528,000 (US$449,432); while Mai Trung Thu’s Still Life of lilies and Mère et Enfant consolation achieved HK$4,032,000 (US$513,636) and HK$3,024,000 (US$385,227) respectively; and, after a heated bidding battle with eager phone and online bidders, Vu Can Dam’s Seated Lady from circa 1935-1940 sold for HK$4,000,000 (US$642,046).

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  • The Williamson Pink Star 10 Karat
    The Williamson Pink Star 10 Karat
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Pablo Picasso, Femme assise à la galette des rois . lot sold for 76,351,000 hkd
    Pablo Picasso, Femme assise à la galette des rois . lot sold for 76,351,000 hkd
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Pan Yuliang, Bouquet de chrysanthèmes roses . Lot sold for 6,048,000 HKD
    Pan Yuliang, Bouquet de chrysanthèmes roses . Lot sold for 6,048,000 HKD
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus