E very marquee season, The Hong Kong Spring Sale's evening auctions is an unmissable event, and this spring is no different. Celebrating 50 years in Asia, Sotheby’s will host four auctions on the evening of 5 April 2023, featuring an exciting line-up of across all our categories, from titans of modern and contemporary art, to the most sought-after in luxury. Leading the evening will be a single-lot sale of Zhang Daqian’s extraordinary masterpiece, Pink Lotuses on Gold Screen.
Read on to discover a few of the spectacular highlights across fine art and luxury coming to auction on 5 April 2023.
The 50th Anniversary Modern and Contemporary Evening Auctions are presented in partnership with CELINE.
Created in 1973 when Zhang Daqian was already an established painter, Pink Lotuses on Gold Screen embodies a lifetime of artistic practice with its seamless amalgamation of styles and approaches. With its alluring luster and its recreation of a scene of blooming lotus flowers, this painting – running across panels – is one of the great works of modern Chinese art from a creator who had reached a pinnacle of creativity and productivity. Pink Lotuses on Gold Screen encapsulates Zhang’s significant contributions to modern art, and makes its auction debut this spring on the occasion of Sotheby’s 50th anniversary in Asia.
50 Years New in Asia: Enlightenment in the Pink Lotuses of Zhang Daqian
50 Years New in Asia: Picasso's Femme dans un fauteuil
Completed on Christmas Day of 1948, Femme dans un fauteuil is a richly coloured and joyful portrait of one of the most significant figures in Pablo Picasso’s life, his lover and muse Françoise Gilot. Seated in an armchair that bears a resemblance to a throne, Picasso attributes Gilot with a regal quality that is heightened by the extravagance of her outfit, the full frontal way that the sitter looks out at the viewer and the strength of line with which Picasso delineates her.
50 Years New in Asia: The Making of a Joan Miró
Sans titre is an extraordinary work created during Joan Miró’s first trip to the United States in 1947, when the artist experienced considerable critical acclaim internationally. Encompassing many key poetic elements found in the artist’s Surrealist oeuvre, the composition evidences a close relationship with a major public commission Miró completed earlier in the year for Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel (now housed in the Cincinnati Art Museum). Whilst working in New York, Miró became acquainted with the well-known filmmaker Thomas Bouchard, who filmed Miró painting the present work. The painting was hidden from the public for 50 years before it was offered at Sotheby’s in New York in 2014. Now the painting proudly makes its second auction appearance this spring.
25.03.85 and 11.08.99 - Après l'éclipse are both exceptional paintings demonstrative of the artist’s Infinity Period, a new stage in his career which the artist entered into in the 1980s. Having the benefit of life experience and richer insight, his creative spirit settled into a serene space, and the artist would draw upon new sources for creative inspiration and missions. He sought to confront the artistic language of earlier masters, paying tribute to art history, and these became the challenges and sources of encouragement shaping the bright, luminous style of his works such as 25.03.85. At the peak of his creative powers in 1999, Zao was again inspired by celestial phenomena to create 11.08.99 - Après l'éclipse. Measuring 2.5 metres in height, this monumental Infinity Period masterpiece was a summation of a passion that motivated Zao for half a century.
50 Years New in Asia: The Boundless Horizon of Zao Wou-Ki
Anatomy of An Artwork: Masters of Vietnamese Modernism
Epitomising Le Pho’s technical skill and vivid sense of imagination, La famille dans le jardin belongs to the pinnacle of Le Pho’s oeuvre as well as the overarching stylistic epoch of Vietnamese modernism. Painted in 1938, La famille dans le jardin is the second largest figurative work in this medium by the artist to appear in the auction market. Typically, such works of this period by Le Pho feature between one and four individuals. However, the present work features five figures and a dog, and the minutia in this painting enshrines a deep attention to background detail and showcases a level of intricacy seldom found in his oeuvre. Similar to French Impressionist paintings, Le Pho’s opus conjures sentimentalised vignettes of private and leisurely interactions set in idealized, outdoor spaces. Channelling the essential principles of Impressionism – creating scenes that were photographic, candid and momentary – Le Pho therefore offers a fleeting snapshot of the family, caught only in a moment of impermanence.
A special curation of seven lots of the most desirable works from the Luxury division, including Handbags, Whisky, Watches and Jewellery for a milestone Evening Sale in Hong Kong.
The Yamazaki 50 Year Old 2005 First Release 54.0 abv (1 BT70)
Only three editions of 50-Year-Old Yamazaki have ever been released; the first edition was bottled in 2005; the second in 2007; and the third in 2011. The first edition, from which this bottle comes, was comprised of only 50 bottles, and was distributed largely to local bars in Japan. As a result, it now represents one of the rarest and most sought-after bottles of any whisky in existence globally. It is believed that no more than a dozen bottles are left in the market globally. In 2019, the sale of a bottle of Yamazaki 50-Year-Old First Release set a record at auction in Taipei, selling for over US$400,000 and breaking a record set by the same whisky the previous year. Expectations for the value of this bottle at auction are even higher now as it presents a unique chance to own a piece of Japanese whisky history.
Patek Philippe | Nautilus, Reference 5711 | A brand new limited edition stainless steel bracelet watch with Tiffany turquoise lacquered dial, Circa 2022
50 Years New in Asia: Patek Philippe Tiffany Blue® Nautilus
Limited to 170 pieces only, the Patek Philippe Tiffany Blue® Nautilus reference 5711 was created to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the partnership between Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. with its case back written “170th Anniversary - 1851-2021 - Tiffany & Co. - Patek Philippe”. A true icon in the world of luxury watches, this reference 5711 combines distinctive design, unparalleled collectability, and rich history, making it one of the most coveted timepieces in the world.
The Emperor’s Treasure, A Rare and Exceptional Jadeite Bead, Ruby and Diamond Necklace
50 Years New in Asia: The Emperor's Treasure
The Imperial Green jadeite bead necklace is named The Emperor’s Treasure (天祿琳瑯), based on the Tianlu Linlang Collection. Comprising an assortment of rare antique manuscripts, including Song and Liao period scripts, the collection was stored in the Qianqing Hall (乾清宮) of the Imperial Palace. This was officially named by Emperor Qianlong as “Gems of Heavenly Favour” in 1744, which is the year that Sotheby’s was founded. The beads on this exceptional necklace are well matched, with fine Imperial Green colour and superb texture. With 43 beads ranging from 11 – 13mm in size, the necklace is perfect in its roundness. Jadeite bead necklaces are treasured collectors’ pieces, as works of the highest qualities are exceedingly rare.
Hermès, Limited Edition Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly 32 Sellier Black PVD Hardware, 2010
Partnering with Maison Lemarié, Hermès handpicked the finest feathers for this limited edition Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly, and attached them on one at a time. Debuted by Jean-Paul Gaultier in his final year at Hermès, the present lot marks only the second time a Black Box Feathers So Black Kelly has ever appeared at auction, and the first for a size 32, making this truly a holy grail of handbags for the Hermès aficionado and an important milestone in the history of fashion.
The Algeiba Star, A Magnificent Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendent Necklace
50 Years New in Asia: The Algeiba Star
The Algeiba Star is named after one of the brightest stars in the sky from the constellation of Leo, which is also known as the Gamma Leonis. The star is said to have been named from Al-Jabbah, meaning “the forehead”, which marks the position of the star in the formation of the lion’s mane. The Algeiba Star is rich with a captivating yellow hue, graded at the highest levels of Fancy grading for yellow diamonds. For a diamond that weighs over 130 carats to be graded Fancy Vivid, is astonishing. Throughout history, there have only been a handful of yellow diamonds over one hundred carats, placing The Algeiba Star among the rarest of gems.
50 Years New in Asia: Yoshitomo Nara's Message of Peace and Compassion
In the Milky Lake by Yoshitomo Nara is a monumental example of the artist's mature output in which his portraiture achieved new depths of emotional sensitivity. The larger-than-life protagonist calmly in a gently rippling puddle. An enigmatic, dreamy gaze plays across her features, whilst her eyes are the beguiling soul of the painting. Meticulous layers of milky pigment bring a luminous opalescence, conjuring up the soothing waters of a sparkling lake that contrast with the dark and sombre tones of Nara’s earlier works. An emotional landscape that speaks of overcoming and transforming sadness, In the Milky Lake offers a universal and timeless message of peace and compassion, a balm upon the troubles of the world. This is the first time that In the Milky Lake has come to auction.
Expert Voices: Barbara Bertozzi Castelli on Roy Lichtenstein’s Figures
A personal favourite that remained in Roy Lichtenstein’s own collection during his lifetime, Figures transposes familiar elements of the American Pop artist’s trademark style into the mysterious realm of Surrealism. Indicative of the artist’s increasing tendency in the 1970s and 80s to embrace greater experimentation, Figures has been extensively exhibited in a number of the artist’s most important exhibitions.
Among the key lots of this season’s Contemporary Art offerings are several works by legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama including Pumpkin (L) and A-Pumpkin (BAGN8). The pumpkin is perhaps the most enduring and recognised of the artist’s famed repertoire of motifs, first appearing in paintings created in her teens. Enchanted by its squat, reassuring form, Kusama repeatedly revisited the pumpkin over the decades, in paintings, sculpture and poetry – where she describes how the spirituality of the pumpkin brings about poetic peace and captures the hearts of people.
My Heart is Flying to the Universe is a magnificent extension of Kusama’s Mirror Room (Pumpkin) (1991) and is just the second large-scale mirror room to appear at auction, making it particularly rare. The neon lights inside this two-metre-high installation blink and change colour at specific intervals, presenting Kusama’s unique hallucinatory perspective to collectors and immersing them in her endlessly repeating world.