With works from Picasso, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Evening sale of modern and contemporary art closed with a combined sales of $164.2 million.
The much-anticipated sale occurred after a number of obstacles. First, there was a tense political climate in Hong Kong amidst pro-democracy protests and government retaliation. As Covid-19 cases surged in Hong Kong, the authorities installed strict guidelines. Due to this, the sale – which was scheduled to occur in early April – was postponed to the month’s end. Despite this, the sale was a success.
The 5-hour event was divided into three segments. The first was the modern and contemporary art sale – the highlight of the evening – followed by a single-lot sale and finally with blue-chip art of Western artists. The cumulative hammer amount of the sale was $164.2 million. This was much lower than last year’s spectacular sale ($269.8 million with premium) but fell towards the higher end of the pre-sale estimate ($118-$178 million).
One of the top works to be sold was a 1939 portrait by Picasso of his muse Dora Maar. The work fetched $21.6 million, making it the second-highest price fetched by a Picasso in south-east Asia. Figures in a Garden by Vietnamese artist Le Pho was a surprise, fetching $13.2 million – six times its pre-sale estimate. Newcomer Anna Weyant saw her work Josephine (2020) getting sold for $513,000, about ten times its estimate and a record for the artist.
In the solo lot auction, the De Beers blue diamond was sold for an impressive $57.5 million. A significant number of bidders were bidding by phone, while many others sought the services of Sotheby’s art experts. Alex Branczik (Chairman, Modern and Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Hong Kong) said: “Western artists have come to feature relatively large in our Hong Kong sales. But what’s particularly exciting for me is to see them in dialogue with their Asian counterparts.”