An ink wash painting by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) set an auction record of 425 million yuan (US$65.4 million) for Chinese art at the Guardian Spring Auction in Beijing on Sunday night. The sale totaled 1 billion yuan (US$649 million).
"A Long Life, A Peaceful World," depicting an eagle on a pine branch, was presented by the artist to military and political leader Chiang Kai-shek for his 60th birthday.
Measuring 100 by 266 centimetres (three by 8.5 feet), the 1940s painting, flanked by two calligraphy scrolls, secured the second highest price paid for art in mainland China. More than a year ago, an 11th c. calligraphy scroll by Song Dynasty master Huang Tingjian sold for 436.8m ($64m) yuan at China's Poly Auctions.
The starting bid was 88 million yuan (US$13.54 million) with the price realized after an intense 50 rounds of bidding over 30 minutes.
Qi Bashi was a prolific, largely self-taught 20th c. artist whose work is highly sought-after in China's booming art market.
According to Artprice, China topped the list in global auction sales last year with 33 percent of art sold.