Phillips’ Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design in Hong Kong realised HK$119,840,000, selling 90% by lot and 72% by value. The sale saw activity from all corners of the globe, with bidders from 34 countries participating.
The South China Morning Post’s Enid Tsui remains skeptical of the auction houses’ new strategy to bring Western Contemporary art to Hong Kong for sale. Her main complaint is that the works the auction houses have been bringing haven’t been choice.
This weekend, Phillips has Doig, Condo, Keifer, Richter and Ruscha on offer in Hong Kong. Christie’s has Cecily Brown, Willem de Kooning, Adrian Ghenie, Rudolf Stingel and Cy Twombly (not to mention Njideka Akunyili Crosby too.)
We’ll all be watching closely to see if Christie’s and Phillips are better able to gauge the market than Sotheby’s was. But Tsui suggests going in a different direction:Continue Reading
The South China Morning Post has a booster story on the rise of Hong Kong as a Jewelry trading center as Mainland buyers continue to defy capital export controls and sock their surplus cash into the large colored stone and vintage jewelry market.
Asian buyers have long had a taste for compact, portable stores of value in the form of gem stones. So the increase in buying activity that makes Hong Kong a global center is more a measure of the wealth in China and the safe havens it seeks. Here’s the SCMP:
Thanks to the participation of mainland buyers at Hong Kong auctions, the city has surpassed New York as the world’s second-largest jewellery auction hub and is now on a par with Geneva. To tap the rising demand for jewellery and arts, mainland-headquartered auction houses, such as Poly Auction, Tiencheng International Auctioneer and China Guardian, have opened Hong Kong branches, competing with established international houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams. The presence of mainland auctioneers has consolidated Hong Kong’s status.
What’s more interesting, though one has to be conscious of the source, is that the auction houses report buyers are moving toward the very wares the market has been chasing over the last decade. Namely, big diamonds are giving way to lesser stones and signed vintage pieces valued for their design.Continue Reading
Art Basel in Hong Kong brought a lot of artists to the city, including Takashi Murakami who is looking forward to a retrospective of his work in Moscow this Fall. He spoke to Enid Tsui about his reputation:Continue Reading
Did it work? Did Sotheby’s decision to bring Western Contemporary art to Hong Kong (since Asian buyers are very active in the London and New York sales) stimulate sales there this week? The South China Morning Post’s excellent arts reporter, Enid Tsui, delved deeply into the question:
on Sunday, demand for Western art valued at above US$1 million was tepid. Warhol’s Mao, executed in 1973 and one of his many works of the former Chinese leader, was estimated at HK$90 million (US$11.6 million) to HK$120 million (excluding fees) before the sale, and Sotheby’s laid the groundwork to help it sell. The eye-catching portrait in red was one of three works in the evening backed by a guaranteed, irrevocable bid and even chief executive officer Tad Smith chipped in to make a bid at HK$84 million on behalf of a client.
This led Tsui to the conclusion that, “A portrait of Mao Zedong by Andy Warhol sold for less than its pre-sale estimate and a work by Keith Haring failed to sell at Sotheby’s modern and contemporary art evening sale in Hong Kong on Sunday, casting doubt on Asian collectors’ appetite for top-end Western contemporary art.”
But the story isn’t pat, as Tsui tells:Continue Reading
Sunday night in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s marquee sale of Contemporary art will feature works by Cecily Brown, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara—and a $12m Andy Warhol Mao painting. Kusama, Nara and Murakami all have achieved strong market positions in both the East and West.Continue Reading
Jason Wordie has discovered that an interest in art may not be entirely altruistic for Hong Kong’s elite:
Overseas-educated scions of Hong Kong’s plutocrat fraternity have become enthusiastic supporters of local art-culture-heritage-nature initiatives. For some, closer involvement with manifestations of the cultural life signals genuine interest – and it is easy to be interested in expensive civilising pursuits when lack of money has never been an issue. But with other “artistic entrepreneurs”, suspicion lingers that their enthusiasm is a ruse concocted by shrewd corporate public-relations minders to help rebrand family fortunes in the face of rising public disgust with the tycoon caste. Art becomes yet another sticking plaster stretched over the gaping wound of Hong Kong’s social inequality and political polarisation.
Opinion: Art fairs a means of parting Hong Kong’s uncultured rich from their money (South China Morning Post)
The South China Morning Post reports that Mainland Chinese art collectors are having a harder time buying art in Hong Kong this week due to stricter capital controls:
“The impact of [capital controls] is very significant if you want to buy more paintings,” said Laura Chen, who came to the fair from the mainland.
That is because Chinese nationals are only allowed to convert and freely remit up to US$50,000 or its equivalent per year, an amount that can easily be breached with just a few artworks. A larger amount would need approval from SAFE. The implementation of the policy has also recently become stricter.
So how are they dealing with the problem? Reuters says they’re paying in installments with 40% of dealers having to accept payment beyond 2 months leading to these awkward situations:Continue Reading
One of Amy Cappellazzo’s early successes in the auction business was when she sold in May of 2003 an edition of Takashi Murakami’s Miss Ko2 for the then un-heard-of price of $567,500. Seven years later, another example of the work was sold by Philippe Ségalot at his Carte Blanche sale at Phillips for a whopping $6.8m, a nearly 12-fold increase in price.
On April 2, Sotheby’s will bring another example from the edition of 3 to market in Hong Kong with an estimate of HK$15-20m ($1.9-2.6m.) The work achieved Murakami’s second highest price when it sold at Phillips. The estimate may be an indication of a re-calibrated Murakami market. But it might also be a red flag to collectors for one of the artist’s most recognizable and exhibited pieces.
In recent years, one of the true successes of the Hong Kong market has been the shift from Chinese Works of Art toward Asian Contemporary art. The marquee Saturday night Evening sales have featured the biggest names in Asian art for several years now.
Today, Sotheby’s announced that it would try to advance the ball further in the upcoming April sales cycle. On April 2, Warhol, Basquiat and Hirst will appear alongside Lin Fengmian, Zao Wou-ki, Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Ye, Yayoi Kusama, Le Pho and Affandi.
The danger with this strategy is that Sotheby’s could be seen as trying to dump its less appealing works on Chinese buyers. Of course, Asian collectors have proved very sharp in their perception of the market and their dealings with Western dealers and auction houses.
In addition to the Warhol, there’s a $4.5m Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Hirst butterfly painting starting at $830k, and an Adrian Ghenie self portrait priced in the high six-figures in dollar terms.