Sotheby’s Autumn Sales wrapped up on 5 October 2016, demonstrating a continued interest in modern and contemporary Asian art.
With increasing interest from buyers in Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam, Sotheby’s Autumn Sales aligned with current collecting trends.
From 30 September to 5 October 2016, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales took to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The auctions included the Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale on 2 October, the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, the Contemporary Asian Art and the Modern Asian Art day sales on 3 October, as well as the Contemporary Ink Art sale on 4 October.
Over two days, the sales of modern and contemporary Asian art totaled HKD698,352,500 (USD89,532,371), surpassing the pre-auction calculations.
In the press release Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, said:
We are pleased that our Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale achieved a strong total of US$65 million, nearing the pre-sale high estimate. […] the sale overall went on to realise an exceptionally high sell-through rate of over 90%, with 72 lots out of 79 sold, and over half the of lots sold achieving prices over their high estimates, reflecting a well-curated sale aligned with the current market.
Show of strength for works on paper
The top lot of the Modern And Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale was Zao Wou-Ki’s Paysage dans la lune (1954-1955), which sold for HKD46.68 million (USD5.98 million). Modern art continued to perform well, with Wu Guanzhong’s The Hometown of Lu Xun (1977) also selling well at HKD39.96 million (USD5.12 million).
Standouts for the night were two works on paper collections which each were 100 percent sold. There were 16 lots from “The Sublime” by Zao Wou-Ki, which achieved a total of HKD20.8 million (USD2.67 million). Sanyu’s works on paper collection, “Ineffable Beauty” consisting of 22 lots, sold for HKD14.3 million (USD1.83 million), over two times the high estimate. Both these results were attributed to the rare nature of the works and the demand for such collections.
As Sotheby’s Modern Asian Art head Vinci Chang pointed out in The Edge Galerie,
This autumn, Sotheby’s Hong Kong continues to delight collectors with two special sales of works on paper by Modern Asian masters Sanyu and Zao Wou-Ki. Both artists’ oil paintings are internationally acclaimed, yet their works on paper remain little known. The two sales of unrivalled breadth and depth will bring collectors new insights, particularly in the context of the 50th anniversary of Sanyu’s passing.
Contemporary Chinese and Japanese works a highlight
Features of the Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale were contemporary Chinese photographic works, including Ai Weiwei’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (set of three, 1995 – 2004) and Yang Fudong’s The First Intellectual (2000). Both the works sold above high estimates. This echoes an overall interested in contemporary Chinese art, which attracted bidders from around the world.
Contemporary Japanese works also performed well, with their combined sales amounting to HKD150 million (USD19.3 million). All 11 lots by Nara Yoshitomo sold, while the “Full Circle II: Yoshihara Jiro Collection” garnered a lot of interest from collectors in worldwide, achieving a total over the high estimate.
A significant work was Nara Yoshitomo’s Little Ambassador (2000), part of the artists “Ambassador” series from the early 2000s that critiques the state of the world through the eyes of a little girl. This work sold for HKD24.08 million (USD3.87 million).
In an article for Blouin Artinfo, Evelyn Lin, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Asian Art commented on the Chinese art market’s growing stability:
Such rare finds, highly recognisable and with indisputable significance, have long been sought after at auction. With the Chinese contemporary art market returning to a rational state, this autumn is set to be an opportune time for discerning connoisseurs to acquire new treasures.
Two records set in Southeast Asian art
The Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art sale saw two records set: Affandi’s Borobudur and the Sun achieved HKD9.8 million (USD1.26 million) , while Malaysian artist Rafiee Ghani’s Blood Cherries by the Black River sold for HKD212,500 (USD27,244).
Collectors were also interested in emerging artists, through works such as Brian Uhing’s The Beekeeper (HKD1,125,000/USD144,230), Elmer Borlongan’s Waiting Shed (HKD1,000,000/USD128,205) and Filipino Leslie de Chavez’s Sound of a Voiceless Whisperer (HKD400,000/USD51,282). Each of these works sold for more than their high estimates.
Sotheby’s observed that this category continues to grow, with increased interest from buyers in Taiwan and Japan, as well as strong bidding from Vietnam. The top lot in this category was Indonesian Hendra Gunawan’s Pedagang Ayam (Chicken Vendors), which was sold to a Taiwanese collector.
Young collectors interested in contemporary ink art
The Contemporary Ink Art: Journey sale totalled HKD30 million (USD3.85 million), with Liu Guosong‘s Blue Moon Landscape (1969/1990), the top lot, selling for HKD4.88 million (USD625,641) to an Asian private collector. Records were also set in the sales of contemporary ink art, with Chen Chi Kwan’s Mood (1989) selling for HKD1,375,000 (USD176,282) and Tseng Yuho’s The Fishpond (1980) reaching HKD725,000 (USD92,949). Works from Liu Dan, Chen Chi-Kwan and C.C. Wang were popular, sparking intense bidding.
A vast number of the works were fresh-to-the-market from private collections and all top ten lots in the sale were sold to Asian private collectors. There was also a strong presence of young collectors at the preview, indicating a growing interest in affordable ink paintings.
A new ‘top contemporary art’ curated sale
On 3 October, Sotheby’s Hong Kong also held #TTTOP, a special contemporary art evening sale curated by Asian pop icon T.O.P. (a Korean actor, singer, rapper, songwriter and young art collector). #TTTOP, which is also the artist’s Instagram handle, became the highest-value sale of Western contemporary art ever held during a major auction series at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, achieving HKD136 million (USD17.4 million), surpassing pre-sale high estimates. At T.O.P’s will, a portion of the proceeds of this sale will benefit the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) to support emerging Asian artists.
The top lot of the sale was Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s Infantry (1983), which sold for HKD46.68 million (USD5,984,625) to an anonymous buyer. Various new auction records for artists were set during the sale, with notable Asian ones including He Xiangyu’s 300g Gold, 62g Protein (HKD625,000 / USD80,128), Park Jina’s Section J (HKD175,000 / USD22,436) and Gokita Tomoo’s Divorce (HKD875,000 / USD112,000).
All commissioned works found buyers, including Kaneuji Teppei’s Avalanche #1 (HKD275,000 / USD35,256), which also set a new auction record for the artist, nearly tripling the high estimate, and Nawa Kohei’s PixCell – T.O.P (DOOM DADA), which sold for HKD562,500 (USD72,115), seven times the high estimate.
Yuki Terase, Specialist of Sotheby’s Contemporary Asian Art Department in charge of the sale, was quoted in the press release as commenting:
We were thrilled to work with T.O.P to expose new audiences to the joy of art and collecting. Through video, social media, the web, and exhibitions in both Korea and Hong Kong, we introduced millions of young enthusiasts to T.O.P’s passion for art, and to the work of this special group of contemporary artists.
Estimates do not include Buyer’s Premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus Buyer’s Premium. HKD to USD figures are based on daily exchange rates: please check websites, where applicable, for up-to-date USD prices.
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- Hong Kong Fall auction results show resilient Asian art market – October 2015 – 2015 Hong Kong autumn auctions prove that Asian art market is still holding strong
- Modern artists dominate Christie’s Hong Kong spring sales – May 2015 – Asian modern and contemporary art continues to gain ground among collectors at Christie’s Hong Kong spring auctions
- Sotheby’s London launches ‘India Week’ auction – September 2014 – Sotheby’s launches ‘India Week’ in London in October 2014, featuring close to 300 artworks spanning circa 1500 to the present
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