Results at the latest Hong Kong sales

[04 Jun 2024]

At the beginning of April, Sotheby’s secured several satisfactory results during its Hong Kong sales, notably $12 million for I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Yoshitomo NARA, and $10 million for a self-portrait by Pablo PICASSO wearing his famous sailor’s shirt and a straw hat. In the Contemporary segment, a large drawing by George Condo attracted $1.7 million and Radiator by Lucy Bull sold above its high estimate for $730,000.

Christie’s latest results in Hong Kong’s sales have been more modest. On May 28 it hammered a total of $67 million with the works fetching within their estimates, without any major surprises but nevertheless reflecting a stable and reassuring market.

Christie’s Hong Kong

  • $51.8 million at its 20th Century Art sale on May 28
  • $15.2 million at its 21st Century Art sale on May 28
  • $28 million at its day sales on May 29

Major signatures like Zao Wou-Ki, René Magritte, Sanyu and Marc Chagall dominated the selection dedicated to 20th Century Art, with results conforming to estimates. Its Contemporary Art sale was led by Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara and Andy WARHOL, whose Flowers sold for $8.5 million, the American pop artist’s second best result in a Hong Kong sale after a portrait of Mao that fetched more than $12 million in 2017.

The young Western artists, supported by Asian buyers in recent years, have had mixed fortunes. Nicolas PARTY for example, struggled to attract his collectors and his three works put up for sale in Hong Kong so far this year have failed to sell. With low estimates exceeding two million dollars for his exuberantly colored still lifes, collectors seem to be focusing on more affordable artists. Below are some examples of prices obtained on May 28:


Vojtěch KOVAŘÍK (1993)

The painting Tribute to Theseus by the Czech artist sold for $113,000, a decent performance although less than the $259,000 obtained in April at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for his Theseus Entering the Labyrinth (2021).


Jonathan GARDNER (1982)

A Passage of Light exceeded its estimate by changing hands for $274,200. In November 2022, a work by this American artist set his auction record at $419,635 at Christie’s Hong Kong.


Ben SLEDSENS (1991)

A young Belgian artist, Sledsens’ The Hare Path, estimated between $25,000 and $51,000, soared to $209,700. In 2023, Christie’s in London hammered $636,400 (six times its high estimate) for his Throwing Dice.


Geographic distribution of Vojtěch KOVAŘÍK’s auction sales (2000-2024). Copyright

On May 31, Phillips featured a painting by Jean-Michel BASQUIAT, Native Carrying Some Guns, Bibles, Amorites on Safari, which sold within its estimate range at 12 million dollars. The anticipated Richter piece was ultimately not presented. Several lots disappointed, notably a painting by Zao Wou Ki that was withdrawn, while other artists sparked fierce competition among Asian collectors. Teppei Takeda, Francesca Mollett, and Sun Yitian notably performed well beyond expectations. The overall result of 27 million dollars for this Hong Kong session was respectable but unremarkable. Phillips had expected better.