Flash News: Hauser and Wirth in Hong Kong; masterpieces by Magritte and Klimt soon up for auction


The attraction of Hong Kong continues to grow with Hauser and Wirth opening a new outlet in the city

In March 2023, the auction house Phillips inaugurated its new Asian headquarters in a superb building in Hong Kong, a vibrant market hub whose overall turnover from art auction sales has tripled in fifteen years. This year, the prestigious Hauser & Wirth Gallery has considerably strengthened its Asian footprint by opening a new gallery in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central Business District, at the junction of the historic Ice House Street, Duddell Street and Queens Road Central.

The inaugural exhibition highlights the work of Chinese artist ZHANG Enli. The first Asian artist to join Hauser and Wirth in 2006, his work has been shown in the gallerys New York, London, Somerset and Zurich branches; but Faces is the artists first solo exhibition with Hauser and Wirth in Asia. The success of this exhibition already seems guaranteed, with Zhang Enli’s work experiencing growing demand both in mainland China and Hong Kong. In 2023 he even ranked among the world’s 150 top-selling artists (at auction) with an annual turnover exceeding USD 11 million.

In the spring 2024, Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong will host an exhibition of work by the American artist Glenn Ligon (first major solo exhibition in China in the spring) and in the summer, it will put on an exhibition of work by the Italian artist, Lucio Fontana.

Evolution of Zhang Enlis annual auction turnover in USD millions (record turnover in 2023) (copyright Artprice.com)

Lost Klimt painting resurfaces in Austria

Gustav Klimt’s best works are always major events when they hit the art market. We saw this just last year when his Lady with a Fanone of the rare portraits by the Viennese master that was still in private handssold for the record price of $108.4 million. This year, another important Klimt work will be coming onto the market: Portrait of Mademoiselle Lieser (1917) is a painting recently rediscovered in a private Austrian collection. Like Lady with a Fan, the Portrait of Mademoiselle Lieser was completed a few months before the painters death. It portrays a young woman from the family of the rich Viennese patron, Henriette Amalie Lieser, née Landau, the sponsor and last known owner of the painting.

The work will be exhibited in Switzerland, Germany, the UK and Hong Kong before its sale on 24 April in Vienna by im Kinsky. It obviously represents an immense opportunity for this auction house to present such an important work in Austria. The estimate is expected at around $30 50 million, but the price of such an exceptional work could rise higher. Lady with a Fan added no less than $82 million to its high estimate at Sothebys in June 2023. The portrait of Henriette Amalie Lieser is unlikely to climb that high, but KLIMTs works are very capable of generating surprises.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Mademoiselle Lieser, 1917, oil on canvas, 140 x 80 cm

A landmark painting by René Magritte soon on sale at Christie’s

An enigmatic man shown from behind wearing a bowler hat. The scene could seem ordinary if it were not for a baguette and a glass of water levitating in the foreground of the image. The Intimate Friend is an important work by René MAGRITTE announced as the flagship lot of Christie’s The Art of The Surreal evening sale in London on 7 March.

Olivier Camu, Vice-President of Impressionist & Modern Art at Christies London explains: “On the international market René Magritte is the most sought-after Surrealist artist. The Intimate Friend belongs to one of Magritte’s two most emblematic series of paintings, the other being his Empire of Lights. It is one of the most powerful and impressive of his iconic images still in private hands, a veritable tour de force of the artist’s hyperrealist technique.”

This masterpiece from the Gilbert and Lena Kaplan collection was last exhibited in Brussels at Belgium’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts in 1998 and has not been auctioned since 1980. Christies is therefore eagerly awaiting the market reaction for this major piece, especially since Magritte’s work is in such high demand (in 2023, two more of his paintings exceeded $30 million). The Intimate Friend is expected to fetch between $38 and $63 million: if it does, it will become one of the three most valuable works by the Belgian artist in auction history.

Evolution of René Magritte’s annual auction turnover (in USD millions) (copyright Artprice.com)