Zao Wou-Ki leads the modern and contemporary art auction at Christie’s Hong Kong

Zao Wou-Ki leads the modern and contemporary art auction at Christie’s Hong Kong

Christie’s achieved a total of HKD 1,407.8 million ($179.4 million) with its auction of 20th and 21st century art, in which -as in other recent auctions- interest in the work of younger artists exceeded expectations.

By G. Fernández · · Image: ZAO WOU-KI (ZHAO WUJI, 1920–2013) “29.09.64”, oil on canvas. 230 x 345 cm. Painted in 1964. Image via

From East to West: the superstars of the auction.

“29.09.64.”, a nearly three and a half metre long canvas painted by Zao Wou-Ki in 1964, described by Christie’s as “the largest and most important canvas from the artist’s ‘Hurricane Period’ still in private hands”, was -unsurprisingly- the work that achieved the highest price, auctioning for HK$278 million ($35.4million). “29.09.64.” returned to the market after just five years, having been auctioned at Christie’s New York for 152.9 million Hong Kong dollars ($19.7 million), which means that the work has achieved an 80% increase in value in just five years. An undeniable success that Claude Monet’s “Saule pleureur” -also returning to the market after having been auctioned in June 2017- could not imitate. With an estimate of around $12 million, the work failed to find a buyer.

And speaking of increase in value, Yoshitomo Nara’s “Wish World Peace” (2014), sold in 2016 at Sotheby’s for $2.3 million, was auctioned today for HKD 97 million ($12.4 million). Nuff said…

No modern art sale seems complete without a Picasso, and Christie’s auction included “Buste d’homme dans un cadre”, a late work of no greater interest than having belonged to Sean Connery. Despite possibly not even being among the top ten Picassos to be sold this year, the work fetched a respectable HK$175 million ($22.3 million).

Ernie Barnes triumphs again… surprising absolutely no one.

After the extraordinary, historic, already legendary, and however many grandiloquent adjectives you want to add, sale of Ernie Barnes’ “The Sugar Shack” a fortnight ago for $15,275,000 -a hundred times its most conservative pre-sale estimate- everyone expected “Listen Up!” -painted by Barnes in 1980- to far exceed its pre-sale estimate of between 800,000 and 1,200,000 Hong Kong dollars, and it did. The painting -comparable to “The Sugar Shack” in its complexity, though nowhere near as famous- fetched HK$7.56 million (almost $1 million), more than six times its more conservative pre-sale estimate.

Young but ready: the new artists shine again

Hong Kong is a market particularly interested in the work of young artists, and today’s auction was no exception, with several female artists being particularly successful: an Untitled by Ayako Rokkaku fetched HK$10.3 million (10 times its pre-sale estimate), and “Big Boy” (2020) by Hilary Pecis fetched HK$9.2 million (about 6 times its pre-sale estimate). #2022 #ArtMarket #Christie’s #theartwolf



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ART & the Art World (theartwolf)

ART & the Art World (theartwolf)

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ART magazine aimed to offer an original & independent point of view about the Art World ▷ Its news, events, protagonists, glories and miseries.