What Happened in … Hong Kong

The city is suppressed by Covid, but the market was a $198 million free for all during Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary sales

Marion Maneker

Thu, Apr 28, 2022

What Happened in … Hong Kong
Le Pho's Figures in a Garden sold for HKD 17.9 million ($2.28m)

Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale cycle was overshadowed by China’s zero Covid policy, but that didn’t seem to dampen demand. Over four sales, nearly $200 million in art was sold and sell-through rates were in the ninetieth percentiles for the Evening sales and eightieth percentiles for the Day sales. 

In Modern art, there was strong bidding for artists like Le Pho, Georges Mathieu, Cheong Soo Pieng and Adrien Jean le Mayeur de Merprès. 

Every lot by Le Pho was sold for a price at least twice the low estimate. One work, Figures in a Garden, sold for HKD 17.9 million ($2.28m) which was a new record price for the artist. 

Three of the four Georges Mathieu works offered were sold for prices well above estimates, including an eponymous work that made HKD 7.8m ($995k)

Singaporean artist Cheong Soo Pieng had two out of three works sell for high multiples including Brother and Sister which made HKD 3.5m ($449k) over a an estimate that was a quarter of the selling price

Adrien Jean le Mayeur de Merprès, a Belgian painter who became an ex-patriate in Bali, has seen strong prices in recent years. Four Balinese Women in the Interior of the Mayeur House, Sanur, Bali from 1958 sold for HKD 6.9m ($883k) was one of three works that sold for twice the low estimate or even higher. 

Grands parents from 1957 was the highest value of the six works by Mai Trung Thu that sold above the estimate range. It made HKD 6.3 million ($803k).

In the Contemporary sales, the number of artists who showed consistently strong demand was a bit longer. Those names include Aboudia, Atsushi Kaga, Chonghyun Ha, Christine Ay Tjoe, Edgar Plans, Javier Calleja, Jordy Kerwick, Peter McDonald, Roby Dwi Antono, Stanley Whitney, Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara. 

Aboudia sold two works in the sales both at prices two and three times the estimates. This continues his strong global market run. Atsushi Kaga also had two works sell, one for more than four times the estimate and another for more than six times. We are all Spiritually Connected to Each Other(with DHL tape) from 2020 made HKD 2.3 million ($304k) which is a new record for the artist. 

Chonghyun Ha had two works that sold for more than twice the low estimates. Christine Ay Tjoe had three of the four works that sold go for prices above the estimates. Edgar Plans saw all three works auctioned make prices that were two, three and four times the estimates

Both works by Javier Calleja sold for more than five times the estimates, but the final prices were in line with the artist’s previous auction sales so the estimates clearly were not a realistic guide. Jordy Kerwick falls into the same category with two strong sales. Mr Doodle and Peter McDonald had similar profiles. Mr Doodle saw one work sell for a price that was more than 16 times the low estimate.  

Two out of the three Stanley Whitney works in the sales made aggressive prices, including A Brief History which sold for HKD 12.475 million ($1.5m.) That’s his fifth highest price at auction. Four of those have come this year alone.