Bonhams Hong Kong 2008 Spring Auctions Scored the Highest Total Sales Since the Launch of Auction Business in Asia

Bonhams Hong Kong 2008 Spring Auctions of Fine Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Paintings, Fine Western and Jadeite Jewellery and Fine Modern Wristwatches held on 29 and 30 May at the Island Ballroom of the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong came to a successful conclusion, which augurs well for the 2008 Autumn Auctions. Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia, noted that “the sales represented the highest total since we opened our auction business in Asia last year, and marked a new high point for the specialist departments that we have assembled to build our expertise”.

Fine Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Paintings

The sale of Chinese paintings was particularly encouraging, with a hammer rate of 78% and total sales of HK$13,689,000. Commenting on the Chinese Paintings sale, Meilin Wang, Bonhams’ Consultant of Chinese Paintings, said: “The artworks that we had for this sale were more diversified than before. The works of Southeast Asian artists are getting more attention in recent years, as evident in the phenomenal success of lot 565 and lot 564, Self Portrait in Three Moods and Self Portrait, by Indonesian artist Affandi. These paintings had never been offered at auction before, and after enthusiastic bidding were sold to Indonesian private buyers at HK$2,640,000 and HK$1,320,000 respectively. These prices were three times the estimates.”

“The other piece that gained much attention was Trois Personages devant Cathedrale (lot 523) by Zao Wuji (b.1921), which proved to be a much sought-after lot by the collectors during our previews. It was finally sold for HK$ 1,200,000.”

Among the fine Chinese works of art offered, an exceptional pair of Imperial 18th century famille rose saucer dishes (lot 572) comfortably exceeded the high estimate to sell for HK$5,920,000 to a private Asian collector. Colin Sheaf commented: “We have listened to what experienced buyers in Hong Kong and around Asia told us last year, and as a result we have tailored all our sales more precisely than last year to the established tastes of top local buyers. Even at a time when general confidence in economic stability has declined, the success of this strategy for upgrading our principal auction is evident in the results. We shall continue to refine the quality, and scope, of the objects we offer in our next series of Hong Kong auctions in December. Happily we shall return again to the Island Ballroom at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, which is by far the finest auction venue we have retained in Hong Kong.”

Fine Western and Jadeite Jewellery

Set in the boisterous environment of escalating diamond prices and disquieting stock market uncertainty, the results of the Fine Western and Jadeite Jewellery Auction show that there is still a strong demand for high quality gemstones. The jewellery auction captured an active flow of savvy customers looking for lots that are worth every penny. Of the many lots that were sold at the auction, the most notable ones were:
Lot 782: a 5.08 carats E colour VVS2 clarity emerald-cut diamond which sold 80% well above the estimate at HK$1.8 million
Lot 863: a 7.65 carats alexandrite and diamond ring displaying pronounced colour-change which sold 38% above the estimate at HK$912,000
Lot 785: a bright lavender jadeite bangle which sold 50% well above the estimate at HK$720,000
Lot 778: a gemstone quality of approximately 14 carats spinel ring by Tiffany & Co which sold 29% above estimate at HK$504,000
Fine Modern Wristwatches

The Modern Wristwatches Auction was again a resounding success. Carson Chan, Managing Director and Watch Specialist of Bonhams Asia, was very excited with the hammer rate of 84%. “Our achievement once again proves that Bonhams is right on target with what the market is looking for. We delivered some hotly sought-after watches, which appeared in auction for the first time, and watch connoisseurs snapped them up. At the other end of the spectrum, our Art Deco Vacheron Constantin clocks were very popular with collectors happy to pay well above the estimates for a rare clock that is very hard to come by these days. We have set ourselves apart to be a leader of Art Deco period clocks,” he said. Lot 1022, a 1920s Vacheron Constantin desk clock with precious stones and diamonds and 8 days power reserve, sold for HK$900,000 against an estimate of HK$760,000.

Charity Dinner and Auction to Benefit Operation Smile’s Hangzhou Charity Hospital and Sichuan Earthquake Victims

To celebrate its first birthday in Hong Kong and to give back something beneficial to the people and society that had supported its auctions during the past year, Bonhams kicked off its Hong Kong Spring 2008 Auctions with a private preview and intimate dinner held on 27 May to benefit Operation Smile’s Hangzhou Charity Hospital and disaster relief for the Sichuan Earthquake. Asia Chairman Colin Sheaf welcomed 120 guests to the ‘First Birthday’ party and encouraged them to ‘dig deep’, while the charity’s Hong Kong Chair of fund-raising Dr Alice Chiu, JP, introduced a moving video showing how a very small payment could fund an amazingly simple but life-enhancing operation.

Attending the private preview, charity dinner and auction was a cross section of Hong Kong’s well-known and generous charity supporters including local business leaders, senior members of the diplomatic corps, philanthropists, celebrities, and lovers of Chinese art, jewellery and watches.

Bonhams sponsored the total costs of the evening and sourced three unusual and attractive lots that were generously donated for the charity auction held during the dinner. The three lots comprised an oil painting, “Evening at Harkaway”, painted and donated by Sir David Akers-Jones, Chairman of Operation Smile China Medical Mission, which was sold to Dr TT Tsui for HK$100,000, generously bidding way above the donor’s modest estimate for his masterpiece; a Chaumet Limited Edition Men’s Dandy Jumping Hour Watch, which sold for HK$150,000 to Dr Alice Chiu, JP; and a unique Ladies Tourbillon Watch specially commissioned for the charity appeal and donated by the Shanghai Watch company, which was hammered at HK$260,000 to the successful charity supporter Dennis Chan.

Together with proceeds from the table sales, charity auction and general donations, the total amount raised was over HK$1.1 million. Operation Smile’s Hangzhou Charity Hospital is a non-profit making hospital that provides surgery and after care services without charge to poor children born with cleft lips and palates. Opened since November 2007, the hospital aims to carry out 4,000 to 5,000 surgical procedures each year in the coming years.