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China's largest auctioneer concludes inaugural Hong Kong auction

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BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- China Guardian Auctions, the country's largest auction house, on Sunday concluded its first sale in Hong Kong, as the company is expanding outside the mainland market amid an economic slowdown, the company said Monday.

Turnover for Sunday's auctions totalled 455 million Hong Kong dollars (72.22 million U.S. dollars), 2.5 times greater than pre-sale estimates, said Guardian president Wang Yannan.

"The success of the debut auction in Hong Kong will shore up our confidence in expanding our overseas market. In the meantime, it will have a positive effect in boosting the entire autumn season's auctions," Wang said.

Sunday's auctions were divided into two parts -- Chinese paintings and calligraphy, and furniture and ornaments from China's Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

Among the 319 paintings and calligraphy works that were exhibited, 286 items were sold for a combined turnover of 354 million Hong Kong dollars. Thirty-seven pieces of furniture were auctioned for a combined total of 101 million Hong Kong dollars, according to Wang.

The painting and calligraphy auction included works from renowned Chinese artists such as Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong and Li Keran.

Qi (1864-1957) is among the world's highest-valued artists by auction revenues.

Qi's 1922 landscape series, titled "Album of Mountains and Rivers," fetched 46 million Hong Kong dollars at the auction, followed by Xu's painting "Pine Tree and Eagle" at 21.28 million Hong Kong dollars and Li's painting "Setting Sun after Rain" at 16.1 million Hong Kong dollars, according to Wang.

All of the pieces were collected from overseas markets, Wang said.

China has become one of the world's largest markets for fine art, accounting for about 40 percent of global sales, since the country resumed antique and artwork auctions in 1992.

The auction market for antiques and artwork dwindled during this year's spring auction season, mainly due to a slowdown in the world economy.

Guardian's major local rival, Poly International Auction, has announced that it will hold its inaugural Hong Kong sale in late November.

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