• Market
  • Jun 09, 2020

Record Online Auctions Not Covering Shortfall

KAWS’s Four Foot Dissected Companion (2009), from an edition of 100, made USD 105,000 at a Phillips

At Christie’s Hong Kong, the themed sale Contemporary Art Asia: Kid at heART (May 22–June 5) raised USD 2.1 million, setting a new record in the online modern and contemporary art category for the house, although the title for most lucrative virtual event overall remains with the New York office’s USD 9.5 million sale of Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels in December 2011. Kid at heART moved 93 percent of 100 lots of its paintings, prints, illustrations, and collectibles, led by a colored-pencil-on-paper illustration of a child titled Fight It Out (2002) by auction favorite Yoshitomo Nara. The work was purchased for USD 290,300, just above its high estimate.

Sotheby’s brought in USD 13.7 million with Contemporary Art Day: An Online Auction (May 4–14), organized remotely by the New York team while the actual office remains closed. The house found takers for 112 out of 117 lots at the sale, which was led by an Untitled 1988 abstract enamel-and-flashe-on-aluminum piece by Christopher Wool that attained USD 1.22 million, shy of the USD 1.8 million high estimate. Sotheby’s Hong Kong office has also been running a new ongoing thematic series titled Contemporary Showcase. Since its inaugural edition, Another World (April 28–May 4), five sales have grossed USD 2.2 million. 

It is worth noting that published reports do not include results from private sales, which can be highly profitable. Sotheby’s Hong Kong for example, closed a new hybrid-format sale titled In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces on May 23. A “silent auction,” the 13-lot private sale-meets-auction of contemporary art, antiques, whiskey, and jewelry carried an estimate of USD 45 million in total. As with private sales, results are undisclosed. 

Hong Kong's long-awaited live auctions—delayed from March and May—will go ahead in July. Major sale series at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, Bonhams, and Poly Auction are slated for the week of July 5. On June 8, China Guardian Hong Kong canceled the sales it had set for July 9–10, which will be consolidated instead with the house's October series.

Lauren Long is ArtAsiaPacific’s news and web editor.

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