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Sotheby's first auction in China

Sotheby's held its first commercial auction in China in Beijing on 1 December. The 141-lot auction, concentrating only on Modern and contemporary art, made a total Rmb227.1m, and broke auction records for six artists, including Zao Wou-ki and the Chinese realist painter, Li Guijun. The auction displayed a mainland flavor for realist works from the 1980s and 1990s and benefited from a tax break that protected a handful of consignments from China's high import duties.
Of the four sub-divisions into which Sotheby's had separated the auction the realists of the first and second categories were the trendiest. Li's work 140 Art Studio, 1985, sold for a within-estimate Rmb7.1m ($1.2m) and represented an auction record for the New Wave artist, for a work that was painted in the pivotal year for the movement.

The chief executive of Sotheby's Asia, stated that the auction illustrated the difference of taste between the mainland China and Hong Kong markets. “There isn't that much interest in Chinese realism outside of the mainland,” he said, adding that abstract works such as Zao's Abstraction, 1958, were also in demand (this went for Rmb89.7m ($14.7m), double its pre-sale estimate).
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