Sotheby's 2018 Spring Auction was held at the Hong Kong Pacific Place from March 29 to April 3. This year, Sotheby’s Hong Kong started to split Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale into Modern Art Evening Sale and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.
A total of 54 works were placed at Modern Art Evening Sale and a total of 53 works were sold, a turnover of more than 98% and sales totaling HK $ 638,377,500 (about NT $ 2,366.78 million). A total of 38 works were placed at Contemporary Art Evening Sale and a total of 36 works were sold, a turnover of more than 94% and sales totaling HK $ 397,987,500 (about NT $ 1,455.38 million). The two sales brought a total of HK $ 1.04 billion (about NT $ 386 million), the second highest total for a Sotheby’s Hong Kong Evening Sale. Several new artist records were set, including for Vu Cao Dam, Hsiao Chin, Jane Lee, Park Seobo, Uemae Chiyu, Yu Youhan, José-María Cano; and an Ink on Paper Record for Chu Teh-Chun.
The top lot of the evening was Zao Wou-ki’s 1962 painting 26.04.62, which sold for HK $ 85.3 million (about NT $ 320 million) to an Asian private collector.
The second highest selling work was by Chu Teh-Chun, his ROUGE LOURD ET VERT LEGER painting selling at a price at HK $ 61.5 million (about NT $ 230 million).
In recent years the sales of works by artist Sanyu have bloomed, and his work Léopard rose, realized HK $ 49.1 million (about NT $ 180 million). His Nu endormi doubled its estimate, which was the fourth-highest selling work at auction and realized HK $ 46.8 million (about NT $ 170 million). In addition, all seven works by Sanyu sold at this sale.
Zao Wou-ki’s 1955 painting QUAND IL FAIT BEAU was the fifth-highest selling work at these two auctions, selling at HK $ 44.6 million (about NT $ 165 million).
American artist Robert Rauschenberg’s Cartoon, which sold for HK $38.9 million (about NT $ 145 million).
Surprisingly, there were three works ranking the seventh-highest selling work at these two auctions: Zao Wou-Ki’s 08.10.84, Kusama Yayoi’s RED-NETS NO. 2.A.3, and Liu Wei’s REVOLUTIONARY FAMILY SERIES: TRAVEL TIME (DIPTYCH). They all sold for HK $35.5 million (about NT $ 130 million).
Art master Lucio Fontana, who was famous for piercing canvases. His CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESE was the tenth-highest selling work, selling at HK $ 28.8 million (about NT $ 110 million).
Furthermore, Hsiao Chin’s La forza della meditazione saw an intense international bidding battle with over 30 bids before selling for HK $7.56 million (about NT $ 28 million), setting a new auction record for the artist for the third time in one year. Pan Yuliang’s Baigneuse sold for HK $ 27.6 million (about NT $ 100 million), more than 4.5 times its pre-sale estimate.
Recently, the auction prices of Chinese artworks are doing well. The highlight Qing Dynasty Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl, unseen on the market for over 30 years, sells for HK$ 239 million (about NT $ 890 million). According to Sotheby’s, there are only three Pink Falangcai bowls in the world now, and Taiwan National Palace Museum owned one of them. Two Sets of Ming Dynasty Imperial Sutras sell for HK$ 239 million (about NT $ 890 million), an auction record for a Buddhist Manuscript. A rediscovered Imperial Handscroll achieved HK$ 147 million (about NT $ 550 million) after a 40-minute battle and over 100 bids.
Overall, most the artists of the top ten artworks are Asians. However, after one year since Sotheby’s Hong Kong debuted Western art in their Evening Sale, once again they saw all of the works on offer finding buyers. Which might tell Asia collectors have deep demand for Western artworks in recent years.
Figure 1: © Sotheby's
Figure 2 top left: Sanyu, LÉOPARD ROSE, 1940s, 65 x 80 cm. Price realized HK$ 49,135,500. © Sotheby's
Figure 2 top right: Kusama Yayoi, RED-NETS NO. 2.A.3., 1960, oil on canvas, 71.1 x 55.9 cm. Price realized HK$ 35,587,500. © Sotheby's
Figure 2 bottom left: Shiraga Kazuo, CHIANSEI KINHYOSHI, 1962, oil on canvas, 195 x 130 cm. Price realized HK$ 27,684,500 © Sotheby's
Figure 2 bottom right: Marc Chagall, SOLEIL AU CHEVAL ROUGE, 1977, oil on canvas, 88.9 x 116.2 cm. Price realized HK$ 14,520,000 © Sotheby's