On day five of Sotheby's Hong Kong Spring Auction week, the Contemporary Art Evening Sale continued the tremendous momentum for the sale series, and once the gavel fell on the final of 48 lots of the night's auction, a total of HK$595.2 million (US$ 76.8 million) had been sold.
The standout of the night was David Hockney's 30 Sunflowers, a rare masterpiece, which sold for HK$114.8 million (US$14.8 million). That's the second-highest sum ever paid for a Western work sold at auction in Asia, with all of the top three records held by Sotheby's. The monumental painting by Liu Ye Leave Me in the Dark, one of only four such single-panel canvases featuring a figure created by the artist, went under the hammer at HK$45.3 million (US$5.9 million), against an estimate of $25–35 million.
The two masterpieces were among an impressive international line-up of works by blue-chip artists, including Clyfford Still, Albert Oehlen, Kazuo Shiraga, Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara. "The Art of Life: Property from a Distinguished Asian Private Collector and Important Patron of the Arts” – a superlative selection of art, design and sculptural pieces – attracted strong bidding, led by illustrious works by François-Xavier Lalanne and Antony Gormley.
The Contemporary Art evening sale capped an entire day of auctions, including day sales for Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, Fine Classical Chinese Paintings, and Modern Art. Each of three of the daytime auctions saw spirited competition between phone and online bidders, realizing impressive results far exceeding the top estimates for each auction overall. The combined results for the three daytime sales on 9 July brought in HK$176.5 million (US$22.8 million). Performance at Sotheby's 2020 Spring Sales series in Hong Kong continues to be robust and surpasses expectations in the week to date.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that David Hockney's 30 Sunflowers was the highest price for a Western work sold in Asia. That record is still held by THE KAWS ALBUM, which sold for HK$115.9 million ($14.8 million) at Sotheby's in Hong Kong in 2019.