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Sale Sets Record for Zhang Xiaogang

SHANGHAI — A triptych oil painting by Zhang Xiaogang sold for $10.1 million on Sunday at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. The sale broke the record for a piece by a living Chinese artist, and was the latest sign of China’s phenomenal ascent in the global art market. Mr. Zhang, who is 52 and based in Beijing, is now among a handful of living artists to have a work sell for more than $10 million. Less than a decade ago, many of his works were selling for $60,000 or less. He joins a group that includes Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Gerhard Richter, according to Artprice.com. Sotheby’s said Mr. Zhang’s work “Forever Lasting Love” (1988) was bought on Sunday by an unidentified buyer bidding by telephone. The painting depicts primitive men and women in a mystical setting with hints of Salvador Dalí and Gauguin. It is one of Mr. Zhang’s earliest works and was displayed in 1989 at a groundbreaking exhibition of avant-garde art held in Beijing. The triptych was among 105 works put up for sale by Guy Ullens, the Belgian collector who is considered a pioneer for amassing a large number of Chinese contemporary art works for his private collection beginning in the 1980s. Sotheby’s said the collection raised $54 million, far above the $12.7 million to $16.7 million the auction house estimated before the sale. Mr. Ullens and his wife, Myriam, opened the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2007.
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