Late South Korean abstract artist Kim Whan-ki’s “Universe 5-IV-71 #200” set the new auction record for South Korean artworks. The painting by Kim was auctioned at about 13.2 billion won, or 88 million Hong Kong dollars, in a Christie's auction in Hong Kong held on Saturday at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The final price tag including fees comes in at about 15.35 billion won. This is the first time that a South Korean painting had earned more than 10 billion won in an auction.
The “Universe,” which was presented as one of the highlights of the “20th Century & Contemporary Art” evening auction, started off from six billion won. According to the Christie's Korean Art Department, 33 competitive bids had been made on site and over the phone for over 10 minutes. The final bid winner was an anonymous phone bidder.
The 1971 pointillism painting fills the entire canvas with tiny dots in blue hues. It is a large piece composed of two 127 centimeters by 245 centimeters paintings. The work produced three years before Kim’s passing is hailed as the highlight of his artistic philosophy and aesthetics to depict the essence of nature. M.D. Kim Ma-tae who was the artist’s patron and family doctor and his wife had owned the piece for nearly 50 years since 1971. This is the first time that the work was featured in an auction.
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