This analysis of six years of Spring Sales in Hong Kong of Modern and Contemporary Art Evening sales was made possible with data from our friends at Pi-eX. It is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscriptions begin with a free month for the curious.
Sotheby's had another strong sale in Hong Kong today. With reports that the Chinese market was in decline coming out shortly before this sales cycle, few were expecting the Hong Kong sales to be robust. Then, over the first two days of the cycle, auction totals and sell-through rates were very, very strong. Asian Modern and Contemporary seems to have made a shift from previous performance to much greater value.
In the Modern category, Zao Wou-ki is emerging as the market-driving force with the ability to generate high prices for individual works and have enough material to create market volume. In 2018, Zao sold $326m worth of art at auction and reached a peak price of $65m. At Sotheby's this week, the Modern evening sale reached $101m with $55m coming from Zao's work.
Sotheby's Contemporary Evening sale was more restrained with $56m in sales but records were set for Asian artists like Yayoi Kusama and non-Asian artists like Julie Mehretu. It is far too early to drawn conclusions or trends from this one sales cycle—and the totals are still relatively low compared to New York's sales cycles—but Asian market is beginning to approach new levels.
The charts Pi-eX has prepared for us here compare similar sales from previous sale cycles at Sotheby's and from the comparable sales at Sotheby's and Phillips over the same period. These charts only cover the Evening Modern and Contemporary sales. They do not include valuable sales in other categories or single-owner sales. What we're charting here is the growth of the Modern and Contemporary art market in Hong Kong.
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