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Last week, Loic Gouzer's auction app, Fair Warning, sold Matthew Wong’s 2017 oil painting Far Away Eyes for $575,000. Drawing a total of 13 bidders, the final hammer price outpaced the conservative pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 to show the continuing robust interest among buyers for the late painter's work. The orange-hued landscape is the sixth work by the artist, who died by suicide in December 2019, to surface at auction.
Though smaller, the painting bears a resemblance to the record-setting 2018 work, The Realm of Appearances, sold for $1.82 million in Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening sale this June, which attracted a total of 58 bidders. The sale of Far Away Eyes marks the third highest public price achieved for Wong's work, next to the 2018 interior Mood Room, which sold at Phillips in a contemporary evening sale for $848,000 against a low estimated value of $60,000 in July.
Although the small set of recent sales is not comprehensive, the near seven-week run for Wong's market has yielded a trajectory typical of market performances for emerging commercial sensations—which tend to cool after an initial period of competitive bidding. Young figurative painter Tschabalala Self’s work went through a similar course, following the sale of her painting Star at Phillips in 2019, which sold for $350,000 against an estimate between $80,000 and $120,000. The work realized a 3,400 percent increase in value for the consignor who bought the work for around $10,000. Her record was achieved in February 2020 at Phillips, with the sale of Princess for $567,736, but the Spring and Summer auction series proved to be quiet for the artist. Posthumous sales of painter Noah Davis’s works also saw prices driven up rapidly in the past year, following a recent retrospective at David Zwirner. Davis’s In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus (2009) set a new record for the late artist, selling for $400,000 during Phillips March New Now sale, beating its high estimate of $80,000.
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