Hong Kong …

[05 Jun 2012]


With the spring auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s and the HK Art Fair, May has become one of the most active months of the years for the Hong Kong art market. This year, Christie’s posted a sales total of $39.7m from its sale of 26 May whereas Sotheby’s posted $23.02m of lots from its sale of 2 April. These figures were relatively modest compared to the historical records posted last year ($53.9m at Christies on 28 May 2011 and $19.6m at Sotheby’s on 4 April 2011)

Last year Christie’s posted a total of $53.9 m from its 28 May auction of Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art. This year, the total amounted to just $39,7 m from 41 works sold (91% sold rate). The best result of the sale was generated by an oil on masonite painting of a bouquet of chrysanthemums signed by SAN Yu that fetched $5.4m (26 May 2012). In second place on the podium, the Contemporary artist ZENG Fanzhi broke through a high estimate of HK$ 25m with a winning bid of HK$ 35m (US$ 4.5m).

China’s leading star of Modern art sales, ZHANG Daqian, was of course very present at these sales, particularly at Christie’s 29 May sale, which offered no fewer than 57 of his works and allowed him to sign another three results above the $1m threshold. The best result – equivalent to $3.8m – rewarded an ink work entitled Speration, dated 1952. This was his best hammer price since the beginning of 2012 … but was nevertheless modest bearing in mind the record $21.8m that his Lotus and Mandarin Ducks generated at Sotheby’s on 31 May 2011 and ZHANG Daqian’s status as world’s most valued artist in 2011 with a total annual auction revenue of $550m (versus Pablo PICASSO’s $315m for example).

HK Art Fair under the banner of Basel
The fifth and latest edition of Art Hong Kong closed on May 20 after placing the city of Hong Kong at the centre of the global art market for 5 days. In total, 266 galleries from 38 countries occupied the Convention Center to offer Asian and non-Asian collectors from all over the world the best in Contemporary (and some Modern) art. All the world’s major galleries were present, including the Gagosian, the White Cube Gallery, Continua and David Zwirner.
In addition, the fair offered a selection of 48 solo shows of Asian artists (section Asia One) as well as 34 emerging artist’s project (section Asia Futures) by young galleries.In total, more than 67,000 visitors traveled to the Hong Kong Convention Center for what became this year one of the most important art fairs in the world.
Some of the world’s most powerful collectors were present and a number of excellent sales were reported including $3m for CHU Teh-Chun’s No. 313, (1969) at the De Sarthe gallery (to a South East Asian collector) and €1m for five works by Alighiero BOETTI (the only artist presented by the Tonabuoni Art Gallery). The White Cube, which a few months ago opened its first space outside London in Hong Kong, sold a work by Georg BASELITZ for $500,000 to an Asian collector. Another Asian collector acquired a small painting (Head Toy) by George CONDO for $150,000 from the Sprüth Magers gallery.Next year the fair will be known as Art Basel in Hong Kong and will be held from 22 to 26 May.

Third marketplace for art sales in 2011, Hong Kong is still actively seeking to consolidate its position, despite a weakening of Asia’s economic health (Chinese inflation down and large falls in the HK stock market during May). The gallery-owner Emmanuel Perrotin has just officially opened a new space in the city measuring no less than 800m² (work by the New York artist “KAWS” is on show there until 30 June 2012). He has joined other leading international gallery-owners that are also seduced by the dynamism of the Hong Kong market such as Larry Gagosian, White Cube, Ben Brown and Edward Malingue.