Global elite buying up luxury gems and art in Hong Kong

The confidence of the world’s superrich to splurge on top gems and works of art appears intact, judging by a string of Sotheby’s auctions in Hong Kong in the past five days.   One of the highlights — a white diamond the size of a ripe plum, weighing 118.28 carats — went for 212 million Hong Kong dollars, or $27.3 million, on Monday. Including fees, the price came to 238.68 million Hong Kong dollars, the highest price ever paid for a white diamond at an auction.
The hammer price was at the lower end of the preauction estimate, and a 7.59-carat blue diamond, estimated at $19 million, failed to sell. Still, the jewelry auction, and Sotheby’s sales of art, watches, ceramics and fine wines, showed strong demand, with many lots beating presale estimates or setting new auction records.
A 2001 painting by the Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi, “The Last Supper,” sold for 180.4 million Hong Kong dollars, including fees, on Saturday, the most ever paid for the work of a contemporary Asian artist at auction. On Monday, a work by Zhang Daqian sold for 34.84 million dollars, nearly seven times the presale estimate, and a sale of contemporary ink paintings on Saturday fetched 25.4 million dollars, nearly four times what Sotheby’s had expected. On Tuesday, the last day of the auction series, a small white-and-blue porcelain Chinese bowl from the 15th century sold for 141 million dollars, well above the presale estimate of 80 million.

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