Arghavan Khorsravi Shatters Auction Record in Hong Kong

Arghavan Khorsravi Shatters Auction Record in Hong Kong

Plus new Asia benchmarks set for masters of Surrealism. Read on for results of The Now Evening Auction and Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction.
Plus new Asia benchmarks set for masters of Surrealism. Read on for results of The Now Evening Auction and Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction.

R ising contemporary stars shone brightly and Western works of art achieved new benchmarks during the Hong Kong Sales’ marquee evening, comprising The Now Evening Auction and Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction.

Presented in partnership with Celine, the two marquee sales realised a combined total of HK$673,348,400 (US$86,006,791) and received strong participation from bidders in the region. Six of the top ten lots in the Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Auction went to collectors in Asia.

Auctioneer Florence Ho during The Now Evening Auction on 5 April 2024 at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

Kicking off the night was The Now Evening Auction, helmed by auctioneer Florence Ho. Bids flew in for Iranian-born American artist Arghavan Khorsravi’s The Miraj (2) (2021). This piece marked her Sotheby’s debut and more than sextupled her previous auction record, fetching HK$406,400 (US$51,909).

Arghavan Khosravi, The Miraj (2), 2021 | Sold for: HK$406,400.

In her mixed-media layered paintings, Khorsravi often portrays her female protagonists confined in domestic spaces or concealed behind painted panels, elastic cords binding their limbs to the surroundings. As the artist once said in an interview, “My goal is to have a more universal approach so women coming from different countries, cultures, and generations can relate to the paintings. The fight for gender equality is universal, and there is still a long road ahead of us.”

Hong Kong’s much-loved homegrown artist Stephen Wong also made his Sotheby’s auction debut. The fantastical A Grand Tour in Google Earth, Machu Picchu (2021), his largest painting ever to come to auction, sold to an online bidder for HK$762,000 (US$97,330). Created at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the painting is part of a series where Wong – unable to travel – turned to Google Earth for inspiration. Utilising 360-degree panoramic and bird’s eye view images, Wong imagined a plethora of perspectives within one canvas. A Grand Tour in Google Earth, Machu Picchu is a remarkable tableau of the Peruvian mountains, richly saturated in bold hues of turquoise, greens, oranges and pinks.

Stephen Wong, A Grand Tour in Google Earth, Machu Picchu GOOGLE, 2021 | Sold for: HK$762,000; Jadé Fadojutimi, Fishing For Steps, 2017 | Sold for: HK$1,841,500; Robert Nava, Neon Dragon, 2020 | Sold for: HK$2,540,000.

Very appropriately in theme with the Year of the Dragon, Brooklyn-based Robert Nava’s Neon Dragon (2020) saw more than 10 bids placed with strong online participation before selling to a bidder in Asia for HK$2,540,000 (US$324,434).

The momentum of the evening continued as Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s principal auctioneer Ian McGinlay took to the rostrum for the Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction.

Auctioneer Ian McGinlay during the Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction on 5 April 2024 at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

The first lot offered, Zenzaburo Kojima’s Roses in Choson dynasty porcelain (1960) saw a flurry of bids fly in. Achieving more than twice its low estimate, the painting fetched HK$762,000 (US$97,330).

In a show of strength for modern Chinese art, three works by Wu Guanzhong all attracted heavy interest and electrifying bidding battles. Cooking Smokes from Houses (1963) raised 35 bids with a tense battle between determined bidders online and in the room, earning a thunder of applause from the audience when it finally sold for HK$11,945,000 (US$1,525,735). Spring over Sichuan mountains (1979) and A tree in the Li village (I) (1972) both accomplished equally well, gathering just short of 20 bids each before bringing in HK$3,556,000 (US$567,760) and HK$4,445,000 (US$454,208), respectively.

The star of the evening for Contemporary Art and the most valuable lot on offer tonight, Yoshitomo Nara’s darling I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (2017) received steady bidding before selling to a collector on the phone with Simon Stock, senior specialist for Impressionist and Modern Art for Europe and Asia, for HK$95,959,000 (US$12,256,843). The painting is a personal favourite of the artist, selected as a central work in two of Nara’s most recent survey exhibitions, and as the cover image for his definitive monograph published by Phaidon in 2020.

Works of Surrealism – which is celebrating its 100th anniversary – also excelled tonight, with both works offered achieving auction records for the artists in Asia. Wifredo Lam’s Fruits tropicaux (1969) sold for HK$11,340,000 (US$1,448,458). The work was previously exhibited in the Cuban Pavilion at the 1972 La Biennale di Venezia. Meanwhile Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico’s Le muse inquietanti realised (1960) HK$4,064,000 (US$519,095).

In the spirit of Impressionism’s 150th anniversary this year, the Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction featured three works by two titans of the French art movement. Painted during Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s tour of Italy in 1881, Un Jardin à Sorrente hammered above its high estimate and sold to a Hong Kong-based collector for HK$24,347,000 (US$3,109,906). Inondation à Giverny, Claude Monet’s 1886 depiction of the pastoral town of Giverny as it rests against the hills on the east bank of the Seine, fetched HK$20,415,000 (US$ 2,607,608).

Claude Monet, Route de Monte-Carlo, 1883 | Sold for: HK$61,489,000.

Monet’s Route de Monte Carlo garnered a round of applause when it sold for HK$61,489,000 (US$7,853,990), becoming the second most valuable work of art by the artist sold in Asia. One of two works executed by Monet on the shores of Monte Carlo, the painting heralds the pinnacle of Monet’s innovations at the height of impressionism and exemplifies Monet’s lifelong dedication to en plein air.

Other highlights included:

  • Le Peintre (1963) by Pablo Picasso went to a buyer in Asia for HK$78,724,000 (US$10,055,417). The painting was recently included in the prestigious Fondation Beyeler exhibition “Picasso. Artist and Model: Last Paintings.”
Pablo Picasso, Le Peintre, 1963 | Sold for: HK$78,724,000.
George Condo, Green Eyed Lady, 2016 | Sold for: HK$13,518,000; Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 2019 | Sold for: HK$36,145,000.

  • All three works by Yayoi Kusama successfully went to new homes. While the sculpture Pumpkin (2019) in Kusama’s signature yellow and black polka dots sold for HK$36,145,000 (US$4,616,801), a wall-hung tiled Pumpkin (2016) raked in HK$24,045,000 (US$3,071,268). Portrait (2017) sold for HK$41,590,000 (US$5,312,291).
  • Lucy Bull’s Radiator sold to a collector in Asia for HK$5,715,000 (US$729,977). The artist was the subject of a major solo exhibition at Shanghai’s Long Museum in 2023 and has been a rising star in the market in recent years.
  • Green Eyed Lady (2016) by George Condo also sold to a collector in Asia, achieving HK$13,518,000 (US$1,726,654). The painting presents an exceptional example of the artist’s Drawing Paintings, titled as such because the works marked a shift away from oil painting, using instead, a mixed media approach of charcoal, pastel and acrylic paint.

The Hong Kong Sales continues through 9 April with Modern and Contemporary day sales, plus a strong line-up of Chinese paintings and works of art.

The Hong Kong Sales

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