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Christie’s Autumn Hong Kong Cycle Down 20%
Barron’s reports on Christie’s Hong Kong sales cycle that just finished. The sales were down almost 20% from last year which may reflect some weakness in the Asian market or just internal challenges for Christie’s team. Here are Barron’s numbers:
- Christie’s achieved a total of HK$2.75 billion (US$353 million) from its Fall 2018 auctions this week in Hong Kong. […] In fall 2017, Christie’s realized HK$3.43 billion [$440m] from 18 sales during the five-day series
The sales were not without extraordinary moments like the $59m sale of Su Shi’s Wood and Rock, a thousand year old scroll, for HKD 436.6m. Sale by sale, we can see different variations in totals year over year. The glamour-filled Saturday night sale of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary art was down this year significantly from HKD 604m last year to HKD 424m this year. The short fall came from several significant lots by Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wou-ki, Lin Fengmian, Wang Huaiqing, Zhou Chunya and Lee Ufan that were bought in and accounted for hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars in lost sales, more than the 29% drop for that particular sale.
In the day sales, Asian 20th Century art actually rose slightly from HKD 115m to HKD 120m. But the Asian Contemporary art day sale fell dramatically from HKD 115m to HKD 61m. The jewelry sale saw a big drop from HKD 731m to HKD 470m. Fine Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy was down from HKD 205m to HKD 138m. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art fell from HKD 231m to HKD 151m. On a brighter note, Handbags and Accessories rose from HKD 40m last year to HKD 43m this week. There were a number of other special sales during both cycles that make year-over-year comparisons lumpy. Here we’re only tracking various-owner sales with the same title.
Cecily Brown Makes $5.88m at Seoul Auction House
At Seoul Auction House, a painting by Cecily Brown that had been acquired eleven years before at Christie’s for $1.6m was sold for $5.88m. This is a testimony to Brown’s growing market but also to her global collector base.
Richard Lin Continues to Break Out in Asia
Richard Lin was a Taiwanese-born Chinese painter who fled Japanese occupation of China and spent most of his career to in Britain where he became a citizen in 1964. Like Zao Wou-ki, his work has migrated from local sales in the UK to Asia’s most prominent Evening sales. Lin has a long way to go before his minimalist work is valued like Zao’s but the pace is quickening.
Over the weekend, Christie’s sold Sixty-Six to Sixty-Eight for $730k. The low estimate for the work was HKD 2.2m but the premium price came in at HKD 5.74m demonstrating the demand for the artist’s work.
On Monday, Bonhams sold two works from the Richard Lin estate
- Painting Relief (1961) for HK 3,940,000 against a pre-sale estimate of HK$1-2m
- Untitled (The Black Sun) (1958-1960) for HK$3,460,000 against an estimate of HK$850k-1.25m
Bonhams also had another work not from the estate which sold very well too:
- Untitled (1967) HK$2,000,000 against a pre-sale estimate of HK$650,000-850,000
Heinz Mack Record Set at Van Ham in Cologne
Not all of the action is in Asia. Van Ham achieved a record price for Heinz Mack’s Small Jungle from 1931. It was offered for €150-200k and made a €800k hammer price or €1.016m with fees.
Lindemann Arrives at the Block Chain Party
Adam Lindemann’s announcement of a half-day conference on Bloomberg today was a bit of a head-scratcher. The Bloomberg story touts Lindemann’s exquisite timing as a buyer and seller of art which is undeniable. His interest in promoting an art & blockchain start-up he is backing seems somewhat less deft given the cratering price of Bitcoin. Lindemann’s clout in the art world and among finance-fluent collectors is still impressive to see as he flexes pretty hard here:
- “Lindemann’s conference […] will bring together art and tech people in his orbit, including hedge fund manager Dan Loeb and philanthropist Nicholas Berggruen. The keynote conversation will feature Lindemann and Jim McKelvey, who helped found payments firm Square Inc. with Jack Dorsey. Emmanuel Aidoo, head of distributed ledger and blockchain strategy at Credit Suisse Group AG, will discuss the business of art and technology with art dealer Marc Glimcher and Dan Long, co-founder and chief executive officer of Artblx Inc., an art blockchain platform. Lisa Phillips, director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, will lead a conversation about how art institutions view blockchain, with panelists including Stuart Comer, media curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and artists Leo Villareal and Simon Denny.”
Bloomberg doesn’t really tell us who the audience is for this event or how many might be expected. Coming after Christie’s announcement that works from the Ebsworth collection would—apparently at the request of the Ebsworth family—be registered in Artory’s database, some might feel art and block chain is gaining some traction. Many have noted that Artory’s use of blockchain technology in a centralized database pretty much negates the value of technology that offers de-centralization.
Some basic questions about the application of block chain technology, still without much of a use case beyond falling-in-value bitcoins, to art remain rarely articulated and without much of an answer. One dealer asked on Twitter today, “Clarify again what glaring need this addresses? What is my daily impediment to collecting or dealing art that this remedies?”