Lee U-fan and Kim Whanki lead Christie’s Korean sales in H.K.

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 27, 2014 - 20:52
  • Updated : May 27, 2014 - 20:52
Paintings by Korean modern masters led Christie’s sales of Korean art at the auction house’s recent Hong Kong sale of Asian artworks.

Artist Lee U-fan’s “From Point,” featuring a series of gradually fading points, was sold at HK $12,640,000 ($1.6 million), the highest sale price of the 45 works of Korean artists on offer on Saturday and Sunday.

Kim’s “Untitled” went under the hammer for HK$3.64 million ($469,500), more than double its top estimate. The price of his “Lotus Flower” hit HK$2.92 million, almost twice the highest valuation, at the Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale on Saturday.

“Contemporary Korean works have gained international popularity steadily. This time the spotlight was on modern painters such as the late artists Kim Whanki and Rhee Seund-ja,” said Shin Su-jeong, business development manager of the Christie’s Korea office. “On top of that, collectors from around the world, not just Asian collectors, participated in the bidding to fan a surge in price.”

All works on the block by Rhee, the late Paris-based artist, were sold for up to triple the top estimates. Her “Plus beau moment (Most Beautiful Moment)” was auctioned off for HK$1.06 million ($136,710), 3.5 times the highest estimate.

Her painting was first featured at the Christie’s Hong Kong auction in May 2013.

Christie’s sold 80 percent of Korean painters’ artworks for sale, raking in HK$34,052,500 ($4.3 million).

“We saw a strong sell-through rate, with special strength in Southeast Asian and Korean art. This confirms the diverse interests of collectors in Asian 20th-century and contemporary art,” said Eric Chang, Christie’s department head of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art, on Christie’s website after the auction.

Shin added that the good results of Korean painters could stimulate the sluggish Korean market, shifting collectors’ attention from Western artists to both young and established Korean artists.

“The good results of Korean works in overseas markets are expected to bring positive change in the Korean market,” she said.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)