Andy Warhol’s Mao breaks records as Sotheby’s Hong Kong open up to works by western artists.
Improving on the autumn sales of 2016, the recent results in Hong Kong indicate a return to the strong sales from a year ago.
From 1 to 5 April 2017, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Spring Sales took place in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The auctions included the Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale on 2 April, the Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, the Contemporary Asian Art and the Modern Asian Art day sales on 3 April, as well as the Contemporary Ink Art sale on 4 April.
After a strong start to the year in contemporary art sales in New York in March, the Hong Kong spring sales reflect an increase in momentum and are an improvement on sales from October last year.
Incorporating key western artists for the first time
For the first time, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Spring auctions presented work by western artists, including works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst and Adrian Ghenie. As the Chairman of the Fine Arts Division Amy Cappellazzo commented,
It has been exciting to witness the ever increasing enthusiasm for Western Contemporary art among collectors in Asia. After the 29 per cent increase in the number of Asian bidders in our major Contemporary sales last year, as well as the strength of Asian editions of fairs like Art Basel, it was logical to add Western Contemporary art into our Hong Kong evening sale this spring.
This decision also followed on from the successful #TTTOP sale in October, a new ‘top contemporary art’ curated sale, curated by Asian pop icon T.O.P. (a Korean actor, singer, rapper, songwriter and young art collector). The sale 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).
Andy Warhol’s Mao sold for HKD 98.5Million (USD12.6Million) to an Asian collector, breaking the record of a piece of western contemporary art sold at auction in Asia. This was also the top lot for the Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.
Boost in sales of contemporary art
The sales of contemporary art was up 50 percent from the 2016 Autumn sales, showing a move away from the “wait-and-see” sentiment that had been noticeable in the Asian market. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western works sold well, demonstrating a diversified market. Contemporary Chinese art especially performed well, with nine out of the ten offered works sold in the Evening Sale. As Evelyn Lin, the Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department, commented, “all these positive signs will no doubt boost the market confidence.”
Five new artist records were set, most of which came from the curated “Brushwork II – All The World’s A Stage” section. In this section all 25 abstract works sold for a total of close to HKD90 million (USD11.5 million), far exceeding its pre-sale estimate.
The other curated section was “Yamaguchi Takeo – Composing Monochrome”, which was the first special sale of the artist’s work in Asia. All 28 works sold for a total of HKD14,846,250 (USD1,903,365), which was nearly two times the estimate.
Works on paper continue to excel
The Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale garnered a total of HKD574 million (USD73.6 million), demonstrating an exceptional sell-through rate of 90 percent by lot and value. There was also strong performance of works by Taiwanese artists that also attracted overseas bidding.
Works on paper by modern masters continued to be much sought after, with many achieving prices exceeding their estimate. Sanyu‘s Man Portrait (Double-Sided) sold for HKD975,000 (USD125,000), while Zao Wou-Ki’s Untitled sold for HKD975,000 (USD125,000).
All 16 lots in “The Sublime-Wou-Ki Zao” sold for a total of HKD20.9 million (USD2.67 million), and 22 works on paper from Sanyu realised HKD14.3 million (USD1.83 million) at the “Ineffable Beauty” sale.
Three new artist records in contemporary Southeast Asian art
The collector base continues to expand for Southeast Asian Art, with interest and participation from across Asia, including from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Mainland China, some of which are relatively new to the category. Works from new-to-auction and emerging artists achieved positive results, with works from Malaysian artists within this grouping 100 percent sold.
There were three new artist records for Southeast Asian Art: Le Pho’s Family Life, sold for HKD9.1 million (USD1,166,667), Joseph Inguimberty’s Le Hamac (The Hammock) sold for HKD7.54 million (USD966,667) and Vicente Silva Manansala’s Tiange (Market Scene) sold for HKD5.86 million (USD751,282), well over the estimate. Overall the Southeast Asian Art sales reached HKD118,926,250 (USD15,246,955), exceeding estimates and achieving a sell-through rate by value of 96 percent at the Evening Sale and 88 percent at the Day Sale.
Liu Dan: the highlight of the Contemporary Ink Art sale
The Contemporary Ink Art sale had good results achieving a total of HKD30,418,750 (USD3,914,893). Over half the lots sold and achieved over the high estimates. Among the standouts was work by Liu Dan, whose work was sold in all eight lots.
There were also two records set for Wang Jiqian and He Huaishuo. Wang Jiqian’s Landscape No. 472 sold for HKD2.98 million (USD383,526), which was over 3.7 times the pre-sale estimate, while He Huaishuo’s River of Illusion sold for HKD500,000 (USD64,350).
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.
- artnet’s Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2015 – highlights – December 2016 – Art Radar analyses the highlights of artnet’s Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report 2015
- Hong Kong South Island Cultural District’s inaugural art auction – in conversation – December 2016 – on the occasion of Hong Kong SICD’s first auction of contemporary Asian and Western art on 11 December 2016, Art Radar speaks to SICD Executive Chairman Dominique Perregaux
- Record sales set at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Asian Art Autumn Auctions – round-up – October 2016 – Sotheby’s Autumn Sales wrapped up on 5 October 2016, demonstrating a continued interest in modern and contemporary Asian art
- Christie’s Hong Kong autumn auctions 2015 evidence evolving trends for Asian art – December 2015 – Christie’s autumn art auctions in Hong Kong wrapped on 30 November 2015
- French auction house Artcurial breaks records in debut Hong Kong sale – October 2015 – French auction house Artcurial affirms leadership position with record-breaking sales of comics in inaugural Hong Kong auction
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