Sotheby’s Modern Art department in Asia encapsulates an ever-expanding collecting category, consisting of international modern and postwar art. The department’s curatorial vision liberates artworks from their geographies, drawing a holistic picture of 20th century art history from a vast range of artists and schools. Strategically based in Hong Kong, the saleroom serves the growing global interest while simultaneously targeting the strong purchasing power in Asia.
The biannual Modern Art marquee and flagship auctions are held in Hong Kong every spring and fall. In addition to these category-defining sales, the department is active throughout the year, executing private sales, selling exhibitions, silent auctions, single-owner auctions, themed auctions and online auctions.
With an annual total of HK$1.7 billion, Sotheby’s performance in the 2020 Modern Art auction series once again cements its leadership in the category. Seven works fetched more than HK$100 million (US$12.9 million), among them are masterpieces by Sanyu, Zao Wou-Ki, Wu Guanzhong, and Chu Teh-Chun. These record-breaking prices position Sotheby’s as an indisputable market leader for these four modern masters, alongside unrivaled performance for Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Wu Dayu, Lalan, Pang Jiun, and Li Huayi. In our recent 2021 Hong Kong Spring Sales, Chu Teh-Chun’s Harmonie Hivernale, sold for HK$230 million (US$29.6 million), set the artist’s World Auction Record at Sotheby’s for second year in a row.
In 2018, the department strategically inaugurated stellar debuts of Western modern and postwar artists to the Asian market, generating a fervent response from the collecting community. Since then, it continues to feature works by Western masters such as Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Wassily Kandinsky, Bernard Buffet, Pierre Soulages, Georges Mathieu, Enrico Castellani and Terry Frost, setting multiple artist records in Asia.
Sotheby’s has spearheaded the market for Southeast Asian art, consistently setting new benchmarks for Indonesian, Indo-European, Singaporean and Filipino artworks, holding global record prices for Hendra Gunawan, Affandi, Srihadi Sudarsono, S. Sudjojono, Sudjana Kerton, Miguel Covarrubias, Chen Wen Hsi, and Georgette Chen, among other household names. A powerhouse for works from the Vietnamese Golden Age, Sotheby’s harnessed the recent surge in demand and achieved 100% sold from the Madame Dothi Dumonteil Collection in 2021. Among the Vietnamese masterpieces from the collection, Mai Trung Thu’s Portrait de Mademoiselle Phuong fetched HK$24.4 million (US$3.1 million), smashing the World Auction Record for any Vietnamese work. In addition, Sotheby’s also holds world auction records for revered Vietnamese artists including Tran Van Ha, Vu Cao Dam and Pham Hau.
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