Sotheby’s Hong Kong 2019 Autumn Auctions Show Resilience With US$426 Million Sales
making it the sixth-consecutive Hong Kong series to exceed US$400 million.
S otheby’s Hong Kong concluded its autumn sales series with 3,423 lots sold across twenty auctions conducted over five days at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Total sales realised HK$3.35 billion (US$426 million), making it the sixth season in a row that the Hong Kong series topped US$400 million, and in line with the predicted range of US$318 – 456 million.
With buyers hailing from nearly 40 countries, the sale was 86% sold by lot, with five works selling for more than HK$100 Million (US$12 Million). Top lots were led by Sanyu’s Nu and Yoshitomo Nara’s Knife Behind Back, which fetched prices that broke earlier records and set new benchmark highs for both artists. Across the series, a quarter of all buyers are ages 40 or younger.
"Our Hong Kong saleroom is a truly international platform, attracting global participation every season. Across Asia in particular, we have always focused on a strategy of engagement with collectors throughout the region. This season we travelled property throughout Greater China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia in the lead-up to our sales, which contributed greatly to our results."
Wine sales realised HK$150 million (US$19 million) in the two-day, three-auction series, contributing to a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s Wine in Asia and reaching an annual total of HK$462 million (US$59 million). Japanese whisky takes the top spot; a bottle of Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky Aged 50 Years sold for HK$2.4 million (US$300,272). Meanwhile, Burgundy reigns supreme, led by two single-cellar collections.
The Modern Art Evening and Day Sales reached HK$697 million (US$88.8 million), surpassing the high estimate of HK$674 million, and achieving a new high for a Modern Art Day Sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Four bidders competed for Sanyu’s final masterpiece, Nu, to a price of HK$198 million (US$25.2 million), shattering the previous auction record of HK$128 million.
Ten works by Zao Wou-Ki sold across the two sales, most notably 21.04.59 from the artist's renowned Oracle Bone series. The painting 21.04.59 sold for HK$105 million (US$13.3 million). Eight artist records were set across the two sales, including Sanyu, Pang Jiun, Li Huayi, Sophie Chang, Chu Ko, Zhuang Huayue, Orazio Bacci and Nino Lo Duca.
The Contemporary Art sales of HK$824 million (US$105 million) was better than the predicted HK$640 million high for the series, and marked the highest-ever total for any Contemporary Art sales for Sotheby’s in Asia. During a dramatic 10 minutes of competition in the evening sale, six bidders vied for Yoshitomo Nara’s Knife Behind Back, driving the final price to HK$196 million (US$24.9 million). This new record is nearly five times the previous auction high, set earlier that same day. The painting is the largest canvas by the artist ever to appear at auction.
Liu Ye’s Smoke climbed to a record-setting HK$52 million (US$6.7 million) after a prolonged five-way bidding battle. The monumental painting was the star lot of The Gillion Crowet Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art that achieved HK$139 million (US$17.7 million), with an exceptional 97% sell-through rate and three-quarters of all lots exceeding their high estimates. During the Contemporary Art series, seven world auction records were set for Asian and Western contemporary artists, including Yoshitomo Nara, Liu Ye, Sean Scully, Nicolas Party, Eddie Martinez, Nobuo Sekine and Genieve Figgis.
Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Evening and Day Sales reached HK$90 million (US$11.5 million). Highlights of the series include Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès’s Women on the Terrace, which sold for HK$11 million (US$1.4 million) and Aw Tee Hong’s Untitled, which achieved a new auction record for the artist at HK$1.13 million (US$143,000). For the first time, the sale included Vietnamese furniture – Pham Hau’s A Wooden Cabinet with Lacquered Doors – which sold for HK$1.88 million (US$239,000), more than six times its lower estimate.
The results of the Fine Chinese Paintings sale came to HK$396 million (US$50.4 million), far surpassing expectations of a HK$241 million high, and with 70% of sold lots fetching prices above their high estimates. Highlights of that sale include Wu Guanzhong’s Sunrise in Lofty Mountains, which sold for HK$49 million (US$6.2 million). A new world auction record was established for Zheng Wuchang, whose Landscapes Inspired by Wu Wenying's Poetry sold for HK$16 million (US$2.1 million), more than triple the previous auction record for the artist.
Appearing at auction for the first time in the Fine Classical Chinese Paintings sale, Bada Shanren’s early Qing dynasty Melons and Brackens sold for HK$9.8 million (US$1.2 million).
With a total of HK$697 million (US$88.8 million) in this season's auctions, Chinese Works of Art commanded exceptional prices achieved across six sales. Highlights include a Falangcai pouch-shaped Qianlong glass vase that fetched HK$207 million (US$26.4 million), and a superb Xuande blue and white 'dragon' stem bowl that sold for HK$75 million (US$9.5 million), plus a very rare Chenghua blue and white palace bowl decorated with a 'daylily' design that achieved HK$56.7 million (US$7.2 million).
An exquisite 10.64-carat Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond led the auction of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite, selling for HK$156 million (US$19.9 million).
From the Silk Road Music Collection, designed by Anna Hu, a Dunhuang Pipa Necklace set with a 100.02 carat Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond, achieved HK$45 million (US$5.8 million). The necklace was the leading lot by the designer in the collection, which consisted of five pieces inspired by the music and culture of the Silk Road.
The Important Watches sale reached a HK$136 million (US$17.3 million) total, led by Patek Philippe Skymoon Tourbillon Reference 5002, a pink gold double dial wristwatch with twelve complications, which sold for HK$11 million (US$1.4 million).
“Our successful sales series in Hong Kong followed the closing of our acquisition by Patrick Drahi, which returned Sotheby’s to private ownership last week after 31 years of public trading. The confidence of our consignors this season and the demand demonstrated by buyers throughout our week of sales is a strong market signal as we look forward to our marquee November sales in New York and beyond.”