Top 10 sales at Christie’s Hong Kong

[09 Jun 2017]

Discover the best sales every Friday! Every other Friday, Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week, let’s look at the results of the recent sales at Christie’s Hong Kong, which set a new record for the prestigious auction company.

At the end of May, Christie’s made several major sales in Hong Kong, generating a total revenue of $316 million in six intensive days of auctions. This excellent result reflects a particularly strong demand this year in Asia. Moreover, in addition to Asian buyers, 20% of Western buyers participated in these auctions. If Christie’s has succeeded in creating a global event in Hong Kong, it owes this success to themed sales combining great Asian and Western artists. Indeed, the May 27th auction devoted to Contemporary art in the East and West (Contemporaries: Voices from East and West / Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art) was a great success and achieved the highest results (in our Top 10, 9 out of 10 results were recorded on May 27th).

Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 ZAO Wou-Ki (1921-2013) 19,712,015 29/09/64 Christie’s , May 27
2 SAN Yu (1901-1966) 9,601,967 Flowers In A White Vase Christie’s , May 27
3 Gerhard RICHTER (1932) 4,258,084 Abstraktes Bild (687-2) Christie’s , May 27
4 SAN Yu (1901-1966) 2,607,464 Paysage Aux Hirondelles (SPARROWS On A Line) Christie’s , May 27
5 Shozo SHIMAMOTO (1928-2013) 2,251,549 Black Whirlpool Christie’s , May 27
6 Yayoi KUSAMA (1929) 2,174,176 “Nets Blue” Christie’s , May 27
7 Willem DE KOONING (1904-1997) 1,787,312 Landscape Christie’s , May 27
8 Chi-Chun LIAO (1902-1976) 1,787,312 Ancient Castle In Spain Christie’s , May 27
9 ZAO Wou-Ki (1921-2013) 1,600,000 16/02/64 Christie’s, May 28
10 Seo-Bo PARK (1931) 1,323,075 “Ecritures No. 10-79-83” Christie’s , May 27
copyright © 2017

The placement of Willem DE KOONING (1904-1997) and Gerhard RICHTER (1932) in this Hong Kong Top 10 is worth noting. It shows how combining artists is a winning formula in these prestigious sales and how the local high-end art market is diversifying. Three years ago, Hong Kong was still only a test area for major Western artists at auction. It would have been impossible for De Kooning or Richter to achieve such sales at the time. The market was gradually introducing major Western artists with minor works, for example Richter’s first canvas which sold in Hong Kong, measured only 15 by 10. 4 centimetres. On April 5th, 2014, it sold for $60,000 (Seoul auction). As for De Kooning’s million dollar result in this Top 10, it is a first after two unsuccessful attempts on the Hong Kong market (2009 and 2016). These successes prove that the market is in the process of opening up, with Asian museums and major collectors firmly committing to the diversification of their collections.

The rise continues for Avant-garde artists

At the height of these May sales, a new world record was set by Franco-Chinese artist ZAO Wou-Ki (1921-2013). A magnificent canvas by the painter, created in 1964 and measuring 230 x 345cm, went through the roof for nearly $20 million, three times the original estimate. At the forefront of Chinese and French markets, Zao’s prices have risen by 833% since 2000. His value has literally soared, each $100 invested in one of his works in 2000 is now worth an average of $933 today. The key to this phenomenal success is mostly due to Asian collectors (63% of Zao’s sales are made in Hong Kong, close to 11% in Taiwan and 9% in mainland China), not to mention an enthusiastic demand throughout the world, Europe and the United States. Collectors and museums from all walks of life look for works by this emblematic artist who represents a new modernity. The same goes for SAN Yu (1901-1966), whose value continues its spectacular rise: +1,308% increase in prices since 2000. Sanyu’s works are most popular in Hong Kong (73% of sales revenue) but important works are still in circulation on the French market (nearly 22% of the lots sold since 2000). After 5 paintings sold for more than $10 million on the Asian market, Flowers In A White Vase sold on May 27th at Christie’s is now the sixth most expensive work by the artist at $9.55m, $2 and half million above its high estimate… This surge is all the more spectacular as the price of this painting has risen by $7.5 million in 10 years (its last sale dates back to November 26th, 2006 at Christie’s Hong Kong).

In addition to the soaring prices of the Franco-Chinese Avant-garde, Japanese artists linked to the Gutai movement continue to rise. After the spectacular price increase of works by artist Shiraga Kazuo (1924-2008), one of the founders of Gutaï, and by Yoshihara Jiro (an increase due to the great “Gutai: Splendid Playground” retrospective held in 2013 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York), it is now the turn of Shozo SHIMAMOTO (1928-2013) to create a stir. One of his works already sold for a record price of $2.6m in London last April at Sotheby’s. The upward trend continues with the successful sale of another painting, Black Whirlpool, which sold for $2.24 million on May 27th. Shimamoto’s sales for the first six months of 2017 has already set a record in his auction history.

Another highlight of these sales: the Korean artist Seo-Bo PARK (1931) has set a new world record of $1.3m. 2017 could be another record year for the founder member of Dansaekhwa in terms of turnover, if the works on offer were to respond to the global demand…