A painting by Chinese artist Sanyu fetched a record HK$42.1 ($5.4 million) at a Hong Kong auction as bidders fought for lots, betting that the worst of Asia’s art-market slump is over.

Of the 38 lots offered last week at Christie’s International’s top selection of Asian art, 34 sold, raising a combined HK$181.7 million, according to the London-based auction house.

That’s about twice the company’s presale estimate, said Kate Malin, a Christie’s spokeswoman.

The 1950s oil painting “Cat and Birds,” the top lot, achieved a record price at auction for a work by deceased painter Sanyu.

“The results speak for themselves,” Michael Wang, chief executive of My Humble House Art Space and one of Asia’s top art collectors, said in an interview at the sale. “It’s a huge success. This auction tells me the slump in Asia’s artworks has ended.”

Christie’s International’s four-day sale of 1,600 paintings, gems and antiques totaled HK$1.07 billion ($138 million), beating its presale estimate of HK$750 million ($96 million).

Hong Kong is Christie’s third-biggest market after New York and London and its hub for the sale of Chinese antiquities, with revenue of more than HK$1 billion last year.

The auction was Christie’s first in China since the company’s Feb. 25 auction of looted Qing bronzes in Paris, which sparked outrage in Beijing.

The Chinese government protested the sale by imposing controls on Christie’s mainland activities.

Source: Bloomberg