After last week’s blockbuster live-streamed remote modern and contemporary auctions, on Wednesday, Sotheby’s staged its modern evening sale at the Hong Kong Convention Center. The sale brought in HK$826 million ($107 million) across 35 lots, seeing an almost perfect sell-through rate with just one lot failing to find a buyer.
The auction reached the second highest outcome for the sale category at Sotheby’s, topping last year’s result for the March evening sale that brought in $102.4 million for 39 lots. The July evening auction also realized four new artist records.
Unlike the New York evening auction which brought a new level of art market hype to global audiences— likened by viewers to a televised game-show— this auction went back to basics, featuring a flat one-camera view focused solely on the sale’s auctioneer, Ian McGinlay, Head of Sotheby’s Asia Client Strategy. McGinlay conversed with masked colleagues in the televised live stream before announcing the withdrawal of just one lot before the sale began.
The leading lot of the night was by French-Chinese postwar artist Sanyu, whose 1950s masterwork Quatre nus (Four Nudes) announced for sale in the Fall. It sold for HKD 258.3 million ($33.3 million), the result of a growing value for Sanyu’s work, particularly this series of nudes which appeals to the growing Asian’ collecting base. Bidding for the piece began at HKD 160 million, and after a long period drawn out by the auctioneer that realised 21 bids, the work hammered at HKD 225 million, below its pre-sale expectation of HKD 250 million. The masterpiece last sold for HKD 16.36 million ($2.1 million) at Christies Hong Kong sale in 2005 and is one of just six of Sanyu’s paintings featuring nudes in a group of three or more.Continue Reading