Sotheby’s Singapore’s first fine art auction in 15 years exceeds expectations

Sotheby’s said it sold artworks worth nearly 24.5 million Singapore dollars ($17.5 million) at its first auction in Singapore in 15 years, beating a pre-sale estimate of approximately S$18 million ($12.9 million).

Nearly half of the works in the sale fetched prices above their high estimates, the auction house said in a statement after the proceedings. Tierfabel (Animal Fable) by Walter Spies sold for just over S$4 million, while a composition by Willem Gerard Hofker fetched around S$2.3 million, nearly double its estimate high, he said.

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The success of the auction marks an important step in positioning the city-state as Asia’s next art hub amid a growing collector base. Singapore has become a safe harbor for some of the region’s wealthiest in recent years, with rival Hong Kong losing appeal due to China’s growing grip on the former British colony.

Last year Singaporean collectors were particularly active globally in categories such as modern Asian art and watches, according to Sotheby’s.

Art sales have strengthened this year as investors have turned to physical assets amid global economic difficulties. Sotheby’s recent run of spring sales in Hong Kong totaled $496 million, the second highest in the company’s history for sales in Asia.

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Christopher S. Washington