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Kim Whan-ki's painting fetches 4.56 bln won in H.K. auction

South Korean painter Kim Whan-ki garnered the third-highest price for a Korean painting in a recent auction in Hong Kong, an auction firm said Monday, proving once again that the late artist's unique artworks are in high demand among art collectors.

"Untitled 3-V-71 #203" painted in 1971 by the country's abstract art pioneer was auctioned off for 4.56 billion won (HK$30 million) in the art event by Seoul Auction, South Korea's biggest art auction company. It was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong at 6 p.m. Sunday.

In the previous Hong Kong auction in April, the black-dotted abstract painting "Untitled" sold for 4.86 billion won (US$4.2 million), a record for a Korean artwork. It broke Kim's own record for his "19-Ⅶ-71 #209," which sold for 4.7 billion won in the same event last October.

Now the three most expensive Korean paintings all belong to Kim, one of the most beloved Korean painters of all time.

Before the auction, the prospect of Kim breaking his own record set less than two months ago had been at the center of attention.

Starting off with an initial price of 2.58 billion won, the event was quickly escalated by fierce bidders who participated in it on site and via telephone to win the artwork.

A total of 60 pieces of artwork, among 74 put up for grabs, changed hands at the Seoul Auction, with the total sales reaching 16.6 billion won.

An official at the auction said, "We could once again see the popularity of Kim Whan-ki, the pioneer of 'dansaekhwa.'" The word means monochrome painting in Korean.

A native of the small fishing town of Shinan, southwestern Korea, Kim played a significant role as one of the country's first abstract artists. In early 1960, he moved to New York and stayed there until his death in 1974.

The late artist has been the most sought-after artist of the moment by art collectors. His other paintings fetched high prices at the K Auction, which took place three hours earlier at the same venue.

At the K Auction, Kim's three abstract paintings "Untitled," "I-1964" and "Ⅶ-66" sold for 1 billion won, 547 million won and 167 million won, respectively. (Yonhap)