Press Release

Sotheby's Launches Innovative New Sale Format -- "In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces"

Hong Kong
A Silent Auction Combining the Discretion of a Private Sale With the Dynamism of an Auction

A Tailor-Made Solution To Meet Collectors’ Needs In This Rapidly Evolving Market

AUCTION: 15 - 23 MAY 2020


Sotheby’s is pleased to announce the launch of In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces, an innovative hybrid sale format that combines the advantages of a private sale with those of an auction. Under this novel sale approach, bids are placed exclusively by submitting confidential written commission bids. Bidders will be notified if they have been outbid and will have a final chance to submit a best and final offer by the pre-set deadline, at which point the winning bidder will be established. All bidding information and results will remain confidential. The bidding process will be monitored by an independent auditor.

To be held from 15 - 23 May 2020, In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces presents a carefully curated assemblage of masterworks spanning a breadth of categories from Chinese Works of Art and Paintings to Modern and Contemporary Art, Jewellery and Whisky. Highlights include a céladon carved 'dragon' meiping from the Qianlong period, a triptych from 1980 by Zao Wou-Ki, a captivating example of Yayoi Kusama’s early New York period Infinity Nets, a splashed-ink-and-colour landscape on gold paper by Zhang Daqian, a Burmese jadeite bead necklace, as well as a cask of 1973 vintage whisky offered directly from the Dalmore distillery.

A total of 13 lots estimated in excess of HK$350 million will be offered, with lot value ranging from HK$5 to 70 million.

The art world has changed dramatically over the last few months. As collectors continue to look for opportunities to buy and sell great art, Sotheby’s has swiftly adapted and evolved the ways in which we serve our clients. The brand-new sale format of In Confidence brings together the discretion of a private sale and excitement of an auction in the most effective way, meeting the needs of top-level sellers and buyers under the current climate.
Nicolas Chow, Chairman, Sotheby’s Asia, International Head and Chairman, Chinese Works of Art


1. 15 May: E-catalogue goes live.

2. 15 May – 23 May: Open for bidding. Bidders who place bids between 15 -22 May will be notified if they have been outbid. Bidders who place bids during the final 24 hours of the auction will not be notified if they have been outbid.

3. 23 May (6pm Hong Kong Time): After the auction closes, the bidder who has placed the highest bid shall be the winning bidder. Notwithstanding the highest bid submitted, the winning bid price (i.e. the auction hammer price) payable by the winning bidder will be an amount that is one increment above the second highest bid, or the amount of the reserve if there are no other bids. The winning bidder shall pay the winning bid price plus buyer’s premium.


Yoshitomo Nara, Ice Candy Lollipop
1998, acrylic on canvas, 109.9 x 120 cm

Offered for the first time at auction, Ice Candy Lollipop by Yoshitomo Nara debuts in the market this May 2020, following the artist’s US$25 million world record set by Sotheby’s last autumn and coinciding with his world-touring retrospective commencing this year at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Created in 1998, Ice Candy Lollipop is a classical Nara archetype featuring all the hallmarks of Nara’s pivotal late-1990s lexicon: refined surface work, a softened palette, and a concise, reductive yet universally resonant aesthetic that encapsulates the oeuvre of one of the greatest living contemporary artists of our generation.

Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline - Big Family: Family No. 2
1993, oil on canvas, 110 x 130 cm

Bearing immense significance in Chinese contemporary art history, Bloodline – Big Family: Family No. 2 is the second earliest work from Zhang Xiaogang’s era-defining Bloodline – Big Family series. With the first work from the series residing in the Tokushima Art Museum, Japan, the present painting is the earliest masterpiece in private hands. Created in 1993, the piece represents the nascence of Zhang’s internationally revered Big Family lexicon that encapsulates the psychological disposition of an entire generation.

Yayoi Kusama, Untitled
1960, oil on board, 61 x 60.5 cm

Fresh to the market, Untitled from 1960 is an exquisitely captivating example of Yayoi Kusama’s early New York period Infinity Nets. After debuting her Infinity Nets in 1959, the year 1960 was the first year Kusama began painting her Nets in red. Examples from the esteemed early Nets are held in renowned museum collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery, Washington.

Zao Wou-Ki, 16.01.80
1980, oil on canvas (triptych)
46 x 105 cm

From the 1970s to 1990s, Zao Wou-Ki created a total of thirteen sets of fine-sized triptychs that are suitable for private collection. For decades, this superb triptych series has rarely been seen in the international auction scene, and 16.01.80 is the largest of size among this group. In this painting, Zao gently renders the canvas with the dominant colour of ocean blue, showcasing the artist’s iconic colour philosophy of the 1980s. A profound and magnificent landscape of Zao’s inner universe unveils in the composition. This work originally belonged to the French abstract artist, Olivier Debré, and it was shown at the retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki exhibition held by Galerie nationale du jeu de Paume of Paris in 2003, marking its monumental historical significance.

Zao Wou-Ki, 01.05.92
1992, oil on canvas
81.5 x 100 cm

Since the 1980s, Zao began to actively trace back his own artistic roots and created a series of homage paintings including the symbolic works Hommage à Henri Matisse I (1986, Collection of Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris) and Hommage à Henri Matisse II (1993). 01.05.92 offered in this sale serves as an important bridge between these two works, altogether forming a magnificent abstract trilogy. Based on the masterpiece of Fauvism master Matisse’s Porte-fenêtre à Collioure, 01.05.92 unfolds the abstract space of the void and combines the dazzling blue and pink tones, orchestrating a soaring song of colours.

Masterpiece of Zhang Daqian Previously from the Collection of Tai Jingnong
Zhang Daqian, Lush Mountains in Misty Gleam
1967, splashed ink and colour on gold paper, framed, 128.2 x 63.5 cm

A gift dedicated to the parents of a close friend of the artist, notable scholar Tai Jingnong, Lush Mountains in Misty Gleam was created in 1967 when Zhang Daqian reached the pinnacle of his splashed-ink-and-colour style. Executed on a large gold paper, it combines aspects of an abstract approach with traditional ink painting techniques to depict a verdant, steep mountainside, a scene from Tai’s hometown. Zhang masterfully splashed bold hues onto the paper, flowing freely with only a touch of guidance from the brush, then adding a thick layer of mineral pigment to create a glistening surface. Zhang’s innovative approach redefines Chinese landscape paintings, creating a magnificent and breath-taking scene that captivates the viewer’s gaze.

Zhang Daqian,
Lotus in the Wind, 1973,
ink and colour on paper, framed, 65.8 x 209.3 cm

The lotus is a recurring theme in Zhang Daqian’s paintings. Created at the peak of his artistic career, Zhang depicted intertwining leaf clusters and blossoming lotus flowers in bold and gestural brushstrokes, portraying a lush lotus pond in the breezy late summer days. The rich layers of ink and colours create a watery effect on the exceptionally large canvas, giving the viewer a sumptuous experience of nature’s innate beauty.

A Large and Exceptionally Rare Carved Celadon-Glazed 'Dragon' Vase, Meiping, Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong
35.3 cm

This sublime vase, covered in a bluish-green glaze, is a large and exceptionally powerful legacy of the Imperial kilns in the Qianlong period. The striking decoration of a large three-clawed dragon soaring above a smaller five-clawed one is poignant in encapsulating an act of filial piety by the Qianlong Emperor to his father, the late Yongzheng Emperor.

An Exceptional and Large Imperial White Jade Teapot and Cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period
20.5 cm

This exceptional jade teapot and cover, created in the Imperial Palace Workshops in the late 18th century, when China was at the height of its power and prosperity, is intricately carved from pristine white stone of superlative quality. It is arguably the most flawless of any jade teapot or ewer in private hands. The teapot is also endowed with a truly prestigious history, included in the International Exhibition in London in 1871 and collected by the Scottish aristocrat Hinton Daniell Stewart, the 6th Laird of Strathgarry.

Jadeite and Diamond Necklace

This remarkable jadeite bead necklace is composed of 39 beads with the largest measuring at a notable size of approximately 13.65mm, each of unparalleled vibrant green colour elevated by a lucid glow of translucency from deep within. Matching uniformly in colour and texture, only achievable by carving from the same rough of impressive size and quality, this important jadeite bead necklace showcases the complexity and rarity behind the finest standard of jadeite.

10.26 carat Oval Fancy Deep Orangy Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring

This striking 10.26 carat fancy deep orangy pink diamond and diamond ring displays a unique colour which incites a precious charm. The inimitable hue evokes a sense of tranquillity upon viewing, reminding one of a soothing sunset’s reflection upon a crystalline lake. The stone was cut and polished with the utmost precision from its rough, transforming it into an internally flawless oval gem of showstopping quality, to be revered by all connoisseurs.

Pair of 15.09 carat each Pear-Shaped Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Earrings

This astounding pair of pear-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond and diamond earrings feature perfectly matching fancy vivid yellow diamonds weighing 15.09 carats each. Cut from the same rough, the pair underwent the intricate skill and craftsmanship of the diamond cutter, bringing out the most remarkable fancy vivid colour, the most prestigious colour pedigree a diamond can achieve whilst maintaining an impressive carat weight, exhibiting one of nature’s finest phenomena.

The Dalmore 1973, Cask # 8 – A Masterpiece in the Making

Offered directly from the iconic Dalmore Distillery. A truly unique and rare opportunity to acquire a 1973 vintage cask of The Dalmore, still found maturing in the warehouses at the renowned Highland Distillery. The winning bidder has the opportunity to be part of curating the final chapter in the creation of this masterpiece, flying to Scotland and working directly with legendary Dalmore Master Distiller, Richard Paterson. A guaranteed 150 bottles will be available to bottle in The Dalmore’s iconic Candela decanter that can be personalised.

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