Christie's International offered 38 lots at its Asian auction in Hong Kong, and 34 of them sold. Bidders battled for prime pieces, and the auction house came ahead $23.4 million. Almost a quarter of the result came from one painting, "Cats and Birds," by deceased Chinese artist Sanyu. The piece ultimately sold for $5.4 million, setting a new record at auction for this artist.
This sale kicked off what will be a four-day auction run with 1,600 lots going under the gavel, including artwork, gems and antiques. In all, Christie's expects to move close to $97 million by the time the final gavel strikes.
While reaching presale estimates has become a measure of success in this market, don't forget that these targets are much lower than last year's. In May 2008, Christie's offered 2,400 lots over six days in Hong Kong, estimated $219 million and took in a record $310 million. Nonetheless, a stream of disappointment that stretches back to mid-September may be coming to a close.