Sanyu and Toulouse-Lautrec lead in Hong Kong and New York
20th Century series achieves $358,946,478 / HK$2,769,819,345; Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions in Hong Kong reach new highs; 19 auction records set for established and emerging artists in both cities
On 2 December Christie’s launched 20th Century: Hong Kong to New York, a relay sale live-streamed consecutively from Christie’s salerooms in Hong Kong and New York.
A highlight of the annual autumn auction series in Hong Kong, the event also marked the start of the late fall 20th Century marquee week in New York. Selling 90 per cent by lot and 97 per cent by value, it realised a combined total of $119,273,225 / HK$920,350,057 / £89,276,366 / €98,828,937.
The Hong Kong series opened with the Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which achieved HK$844,925,000, selling 96 per cent by lot and 90 per cent by value. Later, Sanyu’s Goldfish realised HK$170,170,000 in a stand-alone, single-lot auction of the same name, establishing a record for an animal-subject work by the artist.
On 3 December Christie’s held Day Sales in both cities. In Hong Kong, Modern and Contemporary Art Morning Session and Modern and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session realised a combined total of HK$314,671,375. Works offered in Hong Kong across five Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions achieved a combined sell-through rate of 94% and a combined total of HK$1,733,906,375, a record-breaking result for Christie’s Asia.
In New York, the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale Featuring the Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel realised $48,955,125. The Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and La Ménagerie followed on 4 December, bringing the final total for 20th Century Week to $358,946,478 / HK$2,769,819,345.
20th Century: Hong Kong to New York
Auctioneers Elaine Kwok in Hong Kong and Adrien Meyer in New York took bids from clients in the saleroom (in line with regional government guidance), through phone banks and via Christie’s LIVE online bidding channel.
Some 500,000 people tuned into the live-streamed event through Christie’s website and social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook and WeChat.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Pierreuse produced the top price of the sale at $9,062,000. Executed in 1889, it is thought to depict one of the artist’s favourite models, the auburn-haired gamine, Carmen Gaudin. The second-highest seller was Yoshitomo Nara’s Agent Orange (In the Milky Lake) from 2009, which realised HK$65,975,000.
In addition to Nara, other notable results in the Hong Kong leg included Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign (1981), which sold for HK$50,650,000; and Yayoi Kusama’s 2014 A-PUMPKIN-SPW, which soared above its high estimate of HK$15,000,000 before selling for HK$38,650,000.
The sale also set a cluster of new world auction records, among them Dana Schutz’s Elevator (2017), which sold for HK$50,050,000; Georges Mathieu’s Souvenir de la maison d’Autriche (1978), which achieved HK$17,290,000; Nicolas Party’s Still Life (2014), which sold for HK$10,450,000; and Amoako Boafo’s Baba Diop (2019), which soared above its high estimate of HK$1,500,000 before selling for HK$8,890,000.
In New York, strong performers included Warhol’s Small Campbell's Soup Can (Chili Beef) from 1962, which fetched $6,630,000; and Monet’s 1886 Champ de tulipes près de Leyde, which sold above its high estimate at $3,990,000.
After a spirited bidding battle, Évocation d'une forme humaine lunaire spectrale by Jean (Hans) Arp, cast in 1957, more than doubled its high estimate at $2,430,000; and Titus Kaphar’s 2014 work Another Fight for Remembrance: Study sold for $350,000 — more than triple its low estimate.
Untitled (1955), a unique work in four parts by Matson Jones (the pseudonym used by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns when they collaborated on a number of creative projects in the 1950s), realised $750,000, setting a new world auction record for the artists’ collaboration.
The following day, The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel, sold to benefit the Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel Foundation, realised a combined total of $14.8 million. The group was led by Picasso’s Femme debout from 1927, which achieved $2,550,000 earlier in the week.
There were six auction records achieved by contemporary artists, among them Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Ona, a 2005-06 cedar sculpture, which sold for $200,000; and American artist Sarah Sze’s Surprise Ending, a large-scale triptych executed in lockdown, which fetched $737,500 against a high estimate of $300,000.
The season came to a close on 4 December with the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and La Ménagerie in New York. Standout lots included François-Xavier Lalanne’s Troupeau de moutons, which sold for $2,910,000; and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Le petit peintre (Claude Renoir), a portrait of his youngest son and favourite model, which realised $1,182,000 against its high estimate of $800,000.
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Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions
Leading the Hong Kong evening sale was Sanyu’s Pink Chrysanthemums in a Basket, which sold for HK$138,110,000. Executed in 1931, the painting stands out among his many floral-themed works for its unique spatial layout and its depiction of detail.
Also offered was Bloodline Series The Big Family No. 2, a career-defining work by contemporary Chinese painter Zhang Xiaogang. Executed in 1995, and exhibited at the 46th Venice Biennale that same year, it sparked a heated bidding contest and sold for HK$98,035,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction.
Other notable success included Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita’s Reclining Nude with a Small Dog (1921), which sold for nearly quadruple the low estimate at HK$37,450,000; and Gyatso’s Palace (2019-20) by Huang Yuxing, which more than tripled its high estimate at HK$4,250,000.
Leading the group of works by Southeast Asian artists was Tiangge (Market Scene) by Vicente Silva Manansala, painted in 1980, which realised HK$7,450,000 and set a new auction record.
The sale also saw strong results for works by young contemporary artists. ALL THA STARS MAN, THA STARS LOOK BEAUTIFUL TONITE (2016) by American artist Christina Quarles fetched HK$1,750,000 — nearly triple its low estimate; while Chris Huen Sin Kan’s 2014 work Dood Dood and Haze cruised past its high estimate of HK$500,000 before selling for HK$937,500.
Boy With Fish No.2 (1988) by Beijing-based contemporary artist Liu Ye produced the highest price of the Day Sales at HK$15,850,000. Additional highlights included Mask Series by Zeng Fanzhi, which sold for HK$3,500,000, more than double its low estimate; and Your Future is My Past by Eddie Martinez, which more than quadrupled its low estimate at HK$3,250,000.
Leading the Jean-Marc Lefèvre Collection of Vietnamese art was Les Couturières (Seamstresses at Work) by Nguyen Phan Chanh, which realised HK$10,930,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction. Another standout lot was Femmes au bain (Women Bathing) by Vu Cao Dam, which sold for HK$8,050,000, more than triple its high estimate.