HONG KONG • A work featuring six images of the hands and arms of Mr Nelson Mandela breaking free from manacles sketched by the former South African president himself - and then lithographed and painted on by acclaimed Singapore artist Tan Swie Hian - has been sold for HK$3.52 million (S$630,000), including commission, at an auction in Hong Kong.
The winning bid on Sunday was made via telephone by a French collector, according to auction house Bonhams, which said it was bound by rules of confidentiality.
The set of six painted images, collectively known as The Nelson Mandela Unity Series, was signed individually by Mr Mandela and Mr Tan.
According to the Bonhams website, the litho-paintings were sold as a set with a customised box and framed as a cohesive series.
The bid began at HK$700,000 and there were initially three bidders. The auction ended after close to 30 offers.
The auction price was the highest fetched at Bonhams' Fine Chinese Paintings and South-east Asian Art Sale held in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The second highest auction price was for a painting by Chinese artist Zhang Daqian, which fetched HK$2.08 million.
"It was a great honour for me to be invited to continue creating on the six lithographs by Nelson Mandela in 2004," Mr Tan was quoted as saying on the Bonhams website.
"In the works, I complemented his hand signs with Buddhist mudras to show that during his long walk to freedom, he had received the divine blessings.
"It is evident in what he produced that among his many skills is that of a creative person wishing to make a statement that affects the viewer. Clearly he was an artist as well as a legend," Mr Tan added.