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  • Jul 13, 2020

Christie’s Global Relay Auction Totals USD 420 Million


Delayed by the successive outbreaks of Covid-19, auction house Christie's covered a lot of ground in one evening from Asia to Europe to North America. On July 10, Christie’s live-streamed its first relay-style sale ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century, conducted consecutively in Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York. The four sales sold 94 percent of lots offered, collectively realizing USD 420.9 million. 

The opening leg kicked off in Hong Kong at 9:15 pm local time to a live audience, selling nine of ten lots, totaling HKD 214 million (USD 27.6 million). The sale was led by Gerhard Richter’s abstract canvas Frost (1) (1989), which soared past its high estimate of HKD 68 million (USD 8.8 million) to sell at HKD 79.3 million (USD 10.2 million). George Condo’s abstraction Force Field (2010) achieved HKD 53.2 million (USD 6.9 million), almost doubling its high estimate, and marking an auction record for the artist. Takeo Yamaguchi also made auction record; his largest work ever to appear on the block, oil-on-board Yellow Quadrangle (1959), achieved more than five times its high estimate at HKD 15.1 million (USD 1.9 million). Matthew Wong’s landscape Homecoming (2017) quadrupled its high estimate and realized HKD 3 million (USD 387,050). Wong, who passed away tragically last year at the age of 35, has become a sought-after favourite at auctions. His works have similarly blown through pre-sale estimates in recent weeks at Phillips and Sotheby’s.

The subsequent sales were presided by a different auctioneer in each city. Roy Lichtenstein’s oil-and-Magna-on-canva Nude with Joyous Painting (1994) featuring his signature comic-style blonde female was the star lot of the whole sale, hammering at USD 46.2 million in New York. Other highlights include Zao Wou-ki’s portrayal of yellow daffodils Fleurs (1953) in Paris, which met estimates at EUR 754,000 (USD 850,790). In London, David Hockney’s still-life Jade Plant (1988) sold to a bidder from Hong Kong for GBP 4.2 million (USD 5.3 million), nearly doubling estimates. Also in New York, Japanese-American sculptor Ruth Asawa’s interlocking copper and brass wire work Untitled (S.401, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Continuous Interlocking Form, with Spheres within Two Lobes) (1953-1954), met estimates at USD 5.4 million.

For Christie's Hong Kong, the marathon relay sale followed its Modern and Contemporary Evening Sale on July 10, which brought in HKD 607 million (USD 78.3 million) across 43 of 45 lots being offered. The sale was led by Sanyu's still-life White Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniere (c. 1940s–50s), which sold for more than double its high estimate at HKD 191.6 million (USD 24.7 million), and Zao Wou-ki's 1966 abstraction for HKD 114.4 million (USD 14.8 million).

In the past week, auction houses in Hong Kong have seen phenomenal results in their modern and contemporary art sales. Sotheby’s Hong Kong raked in HKD 826 million (USD 107 million) during its Modern Art Evening Sale on July 8, while Phillips Hong Kong achieved a total of HKD 200 million (USD 25.7 million) in its 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on the same day. Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on July 9 made HKD 595 million (USD 76.8 million), led by David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers (1996), which at HKD 114.8 million (USD 14.8 million) is the second highest priced Western art sold in Asia. 

Jae Lamb is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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