Record Diamond is the Star of Hong Kong

Launch Slideshow

It was a momentous sale season in Hong Kong with records falling and prices soaring. The unequivocal headline of the week was the phenomenal success of the CTF Pink Star diamond, which sets the new standard for any diamond or jewel. The 59.60-Carat Oval Mixed-Cut Fancy Vivid Pink Internally Flawless Diamond sold for HK$553 million (US$71.2 million) to Hong Kong jeweller Chow Tai Fook, making it the highest price for any work ever sold at auction in Asia. Not to be outdone, an Exceptional Xuande Bowl sold for $HK229 million (US$29.5 million). Driven by strong prices throughout the week, the Spring Sale series totalled a remarkable HK$3.17 billion (US$406.1 million). Click ahead to see some of the week’s top prices.

Hong Kong Spring Sales | 1–5 April

Record Diamond is the Star of Hong Kong

  • CTF The Pink Star: One Of The World's Great Natural Treasures. Sold for HK$553,037,500 (US$71,170,395.88).
    On 4 April 2017 in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s set a new record for any diamond or jewel when the Pink Star, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut fancy vivid pink internally flawless diamond, sold for HK$553 million (US$71.2 million) to renowned jeweller Chow Tai Fook, who has renamed the stone ' CTF Pink Star .' Not only was the price more than double the previous record for a fancy vivid pink diamond, but it was also a new record for any work ever sold at auction in Asia.


    Watch video: CTF Pink Star – A True Masterpiece of Nature


  • An Exceptionally Large, Fine and Important Blue and White Lobed ‘Fish Pond’ Bowl Mark and Period of Xuande. Sold for HK$229,037,500 (US$29,474,835.88).
    This outstanding Xuande lobed bowl, intricately painted in the most brilliant tones of underglaze blue with a design of fish swimming in a pond, and preserved in extraordinary condition, is arguably the greatest example of early Ming blue and white porcelain in private hands. The only comparable examples are two smaller bowls preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Revered and extensively published in Japan since its first public exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum in 1963, its appearance on the international art market now is a moment of celebration.


    Read blog: Fishes in the Imperial Pond

  • Andy Warhol Mao. Sold for HK$98,537,500 (US$12,680,791).
    The Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 2 April was led by Andy Warhol's Mao which was sold to an Asian private collector for HK$98.5 million (US$12.6 million), setting an auction record for any western Contemporary art sold in Asia. The Mao Series marked a significant stylistic turning point for Warhol in the 1970s. Through the use of bold colours that are closely associated with communism and which echo the colour scheme of the People’s Republic flag, the present work is a distinctly wonderful example of the artist’s oeuvre.


    Read blog:  Andy Warhol and Chairman Mao

  • A Fine and Magnificent Large Blue and White 'Dragon' Vase Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong. Sold for HK$49,037,500 (US$6,310,636).
    This magnificent dragon vase, superbly potted with an ovoid body gently rising to a tall slender neck, skilfully painted with forceful five-clawed dragons soaring through a dense network of floral scrolls, is outstanding for its large size and summarises the Qianlong Emperor’s admiration for antiquity and his taste for bold statement pieces. It is notable for its dynamic design of dragons amongst floral scrolls, a motif that is known from 15th century blue and white wares and which was revived under the preceding Yongzheng Emperor and produced throughout the Qing dynasty. The dragon is perhaps the most important motif in the repertoire of the Chinese potter and artist. It represents the Emperor and is the symbol of imperial power. The effectiveness of the overall design of the present vase is also due to the brilliant deep blue cobalt, which has been applied to replicate the ‘heaping and piling’ effect of early Ming underglaze-blue designs and reflects the high level of technical achievement attained by the craftsman.

  • Arnold Lee
    Zhang Daqian, Lush Mountains in Misty Gleam, 1967. Sold for HK$31,037,500 (US$3,979,167).
    Leading by Zhang Daqian’s Lush Mountains in Misty Gleam, the Fine Chinese Painting sale realises a total HK$371,575,000 (US$47,637,821) with two thematic sessions 100% sold. The market responded with keen interest, with enthusiastic bidding lasting for almost ten hours. Many works sold for multiples of their estimates, a testament to collectors desire for the finest and rarest works and the market’s recognition to Sotheby’s curatorial strategy.

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Water-Worshipper. Sold for HK$42,287,500 (US$5,441,978).
    Executed in 1984, this remarkable work bears witness to the very year Basquiat reached full artistic maturity at the age of just 24. Combining the tobacco logo, figures from Haitian voodoo, and planks that symbolize the boat or slave ship, the work displays his intensive engagement with racism, colonialism and slavery, which were both nurtured from personal experiences as well as his interest in Afro-American history. It reflects our contemporary times and society just as it reflects history – the very reason why Basquiat’s work continues to influence the younger artist generations today. 

  • Very Fine Fancy Intense Blue Diamond and Diamond Ring. Sold for HK$37,225,000 (US$4,790,858).
    In a week which saw strong prices achieved for precious gemstones, this blue diamond and diamond ring takes the lead of the Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale on 4 April. Blue diamonds bear the most spectacular and enchanting hue with their serene and tranquil shades of the sky. What makes these fascinating gems a true rarity is the combination of various dynamic yet sophisticated conditions; an uncontrollable force of nature that is perfected through the pinnacle of craftsmanship.

  • Zao Wou-Ki (Zhao Wuji), 17.07.67. Sold for HK$40,037,500 (US$5,152,426).
    Featuring in the night's top 10 lots, Zao Wou Ki’s 17.07.67 (Sold for HK$40,037,500/US$5,152,426), Bateaux au Clair de Lune (Sold for HK$31,037,500/US$3,994,216) and Nature Morte Sur Une Table Ronde (Sold for HK$19,300,000/US$2,483,717) are among the five oil works offered in this season’s Evening Sales to represent a complete circle of the legendary master’s artistic journey.

  • Kusama Yayoi Net-No.2 Yellow. Sold for HK$25,300,000 (US$3,255,857).
    Dated from 1960, the exquisitely electric Net-No.2 Yellow is the first large yellow net from Kusama Yayoi’s early period infinity nets to appear at auction. Standing at almost a metre tall, the piece is a masterpiece of blazing radiance, exhibiting endless repetitions of minute solid yellow arcs dabbed dexterously over black—a palette rarely seen in the market for Kusama’s early period nets, which mostly employed white and red. The vast net pulsates with infinite rhythmic ripples and dynamic undulations, featuring an endless writhing mass of elegant scalloped arcs punctuated by occasional swirls of thick impasto that add beguiling textural depth. A rare specimen hailing from Kusama’s most celebrated series from the most coveted era of her career, Net-No.2 Yellow is exemplary of Kusama’s iconic brand of abstraction that first established her indomitable position in the Western art world.

  • A Magnificent and Extremely Rare Dry-Lacquer Head Of Avalokitesvara, Tang Dynasty. Sold for HK$21,700,000 (US$2,792,356).
    Offering an improbable array of objects from the dawn of life on earth to the present day, this season’s cabinet of Curiosity Sale was highlighted by a Magnificent and Extremely Rare Dry-Lacquer Head Of Avalokitesvara,  fetching HK$21,700,000(US$2,792,356). This majestic image of the Bodhisattva  captivates the viewer as a personification of all that is admirable, desirable and reassuring in Buddhist thought. There is no technique or material that can evoke the harmony and perfection of a divine face like this ‘dry lacquer’ technique. In spite of its genderless, spiritual beauty, this masterful sculpture appears to breathe with life.


    Watch video: Peek inside Sotheby's Cabinet of Curiosities

  • Shimamoto Shozo EXPLOSION 64-1. Sold for HK$20,500,000 (US$2,638,145).
    The Modern and Contemporary Art Evening was kicked off by a White-Glove Sale of the Brushwork series with four new artist auction records for Shimamoto Shozo, Motonaga Sadamasa, Tanaka Atsuko and Morita Shiryu. Celebrating the newly globalised and interconnected post-war arena, Brushwork II – All the World’s a Stage finds a common international language on the global ‘stage’ of abstraction in the cross-cultural context of East and West.

  • Lin Fengmian Harvest at Dawn. Sold for HK$24,100,000 (US$3,101,429).
    Rare and of museum-quality, Harvest at Dawn echoes the composition and spirit of a series of nearly or partly identical coloured ink masterpieces in the collection at the Shanghai Chinese Painting Academy, and is the result of repeated experiments.

  • Liu Wei Mao Generation. Sold for HK$10,900,000 (US$1,402,721).
    In Mao Generation, Liu Wei depicted himself and his brother as infants, sitting in front of a portrait of Mao and wearing open crotch pants. In an era where people lived and breathed Mao Zedong, Liu Wei's painting was at once a depiction of everyday life and a playful commentary on society. Mao Generation combines the exaggerated figurative forms of the artist's early period with his later, more Expressionistic abstract style. Thus the painting more closely resembles the iconic Liu Wei style we are familiar with: relaxed brushwork, spontaneous daubs of paint, with a hint of impudence and defiance.


  • Le Pho Family Life. Sold for HK$9,100,000 (US$1,171,079).
    On 2 April, a new artist record was achived by Family Life  for Le Pho, the Vietnamese modern master who stands as one of the most highly sought after Southeast Asian artists today. The present lot epitomizes Le Pho’s technical skill and his vivid sense of imagination. However, what truly sets this masterpiece apart is its magnificent detailing; the minutia is executed to a level of intricacy seldom found in his oeuvre. This multi-layered composition is an indulgence to the eye, tracing varying natural elements and figures across a picture plane that recedes deeply into the distance. The painstakingly executed backdrop frames the work’s hallowed focal point: the mother and child, a quintessential subject of the artist.

  • Cartier "Flamingo and Lotus Automaton Clock" Sold for HK$4,180,000(US$537,924).
    The star lot of the Important Watch Sale was this fabulous “Flamingo and Lotus” automaton clock. This glamorously gem-set work of art features two iconic Cartier motifs within. Conceived in the Golden Age of Café Society where the elite cultivated sophistication and daring elegance, the dazzling motif was first commissioned as a brooch for the Duchess of Windsor in 1940. Formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Windsor.

  • Photo by KEI OKANO
    Yamaguchi Takeo, Fuza (Lotus Position). Sold for HK$2,375,000 (US$305,615).
    Celebrating the extraordinary career of one of the most important pioneers of Japanese abstraction, Sotheby’s was honored to present “Yamaguchi Takeo – Composing Monochrome” . The thematic sale concluded on 3 April with 100% sell-through rate. Auction’s top lot Fuza, which translates as "sit" in the Buddhist lotus pose, is a sublime example of the extraordinary power of Yamaguchi's line and composition: by using just two short, thin, well-placed black lines, Yamaguchi conveys not just one but two successive physical sensations of "falling" and "settling". While similar delineating features are featured in the colour fields of Piet Mondrian or Barnett Newman, their uniform lines, or "zips", as Newman called them, merely demarcate flat space on a flat plane--a far cry from the movement and gravity stimulated by Yamaguchi's organic incisions.


    Read Blog: Yamaguchi Takeo: Composing Monochrome

  • Part III of A Monumental Collection, From the Cellars of a Connoisseur. Sale Total: HK$41,891,957 (US$5,370,76).
    Sotheby’s Hong Kong opens the Spring Sale Series with two outstanding wine sales, realising a combined total of HK$ 93,089,797 (US$11,934,589). Part III of A Monumental Collection, From the Cellars of a Connoisseur achieved HK$41,891,957 (US$5,370,764), concluding the trilogy of the Monumental Collection in Hong Kong  after Part I and Part II in New York and London with a grand total of HK$72,700,140 (US$9,320,531).

  • The Finest and Rarest Wines and The Macallan. Sale Total: HK$51,197,840 (US$6,563,826).
    The Finest and Rarest Wines and The Macallan totalled HK$51,197,840 (US$6,563,826), setting a new world record for any lot of whisky ever sold at auction, as well as becoming the third highest value lot ever sold at Sotheby’s Wine.


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