The latest Hong Kong results from Phillips and Christie’s


Having hammered $2.4 million from Ultra-contemporary art at Phillips and $104 million from Modern & Contemporary art at Christie’s, the latest Hong Kong sales lived up to expectations.

On 26 November, Phillips hosted its first Asian edition of its “New Now” sale in Hong Kong, bringing together Contemporary art and design work from the 20th and 21st centuries. Although the total of $2.4 million may not seem impressive, 60% of the lots sold above their estimates, with bidders from 33 different countries and/or regions. The competition between bidders was particularly strong for works by Kelly BEEMAN (1983), FAN Zhen (1984) and QIAN Wu (1991) who all set new auction records with results ranging from $13,000 to $33,000. In its press release, Phillips referred to “a fervent enthusiasm for the works of young artists born after 1980” like XIA Yu, Mehdi GHADYANLOO and Gongkan, and favorable auction debuts for newcomers Madeleine BIALKE (1991), HANG Gao (1991) and Carlo D’ANSELMI (1991) with their works fetching between $6,000 and $10,000. The majority of young artists included in the New Now catalog were painters, more often figurative than abstract, matching popular aesthetic trends in the region. Phillips, who intend to maintain a strong position on emerging artists, is riding the wave of current trends.

The company’s Hong Kong sales will continue until 7 December, the closing day of its online sale “20th Century & Contemporary Art Hong Kong”, which also offers very recent works including works by Laura BERGER (1979) (Soft Bound, 2022), OH DE LAVAL (1990) (Roman Holiday, 2018), Etsu EGAMI (1994) (Face, 2021) and Aaron JOHNSON (XX-XXI) (Swarming the Blue Orb, 2020).

Kantapon METHEEKUL (1989) aka Gongkan

Freedom (2022). Acrylic on canvas, 160 x 120 cm

Price incl. fees: $42,371. Estimated: $15,398 – $23,097

Christie’s improves on last year’s total

Christie’s also had its share of Contemporary and Ultra-contemporary art last week in a small Post-Millennium Evening Sale on 28 November offering 28 lots. The sale was well marketed in collaboration with Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou and took $15.2 million, a third of which ($5.5 million) came from an Adrian GHENIE (1977) painting titled Lidless Eye which draws inspiration from Vincent van Gogh’s emblematic Self-portrait. Very well received by Asian buyers, the 46-year-old Romanian artist also owes his auction record of $10.3 million to Christie’s Hong Kong since his large canvas Pie Fight Interior 12 (2014, 284 x 350 cm) was sold there in 2022.

Two other good results for Western artists: Lucy BULL’s (b. 1990) psychedelic Snail Effects sold for $937,300 against a high estimate of $487,300, and Emma WEBSTER’s (b. 1989) fantastic canvas Last Standing fetched $290,900 against a high estimate of $115,400. As for Chinese Contemporary artists, the most remarkable results were hammered for JI Xin (b. 1988), whose canvas White Cat fetched four times its high estimate ($258,600) and QIU Xiaofei’s (b. 1977) work Zero Gravity No. 4 almost tripled its high estimate, reaching $282,800.

There were however three buy-ins, including Dana SCHUTZ’s (1976) Singer Songwriter which was expected to sell for between $2 and $3.3 million. Hong Kong remains the best market this year for Dana Schultz’s work, but the artist’s annual auction turnover has shown a sharp decline since 2019-2021.

Auction turnover from works by Dana SCHUTZ (in USD millions) (copyright

This sale was immediately followed by a prestige 20th/21st Century Art Evening session with fifty lots that generated a total of $88.9 million (plus two million vs. the same session in November 2022). The star lot was SAN Yu’s Femme nue sur un tapis (see our article Sanyu in upcoming Hong Kong sales) which sold for $24 million, adding approximately $5 million to Christie’s high estimate and joining Sanyu’s Top 10 auction results to date. Sanyu’s auction record currently stands at $38.8 million for a work depicting the same subject, multiplied by five! (Five nudes, 1950).

Lastly, we note that while the best works by Yayoi Kusama, Yoshimoto Nara and Zao Wou-Ki appeared to stimulate collectors, works by George Condo, Richard Prince, Rudolf Stingel, Genieve Figgis and Zhang Xiaogang received a relatively tepid reception, ending in buy-ins in some cases.