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Auctions

Hong Kong autumn auction highlights: Picasso to Fu Baoshi to a Ming dynasty ‘fish jar’

Christie’s sales include jewellery, Chinese antiques and modern paintings, a Monet-themed auction and other Impressionists, while Phillips goes with 20th century and contemporary artists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 7:32pm

There may not be any Leonardo da Vinci works up for grabs during the finale of Hong Kong’s autumn auction season, but there are still plenty of highlights, including Impressionist paintings, a 15-carat pink diamond, a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat titled Hong Kong and even a pair of spectacles that belonged to Claude Monet.

That last item will feature in one of a number of sales in the week of November 24 to 29 that target Asian collectors’ growing taste for Western art. 

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Christie’s, which showed Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in Hong Kong ahead of its US$450.3 million sale in New York last week, has an auction called “Dear Monsieur Monet” on November 26, that includes 54 lots of the French artist’s personal memorabilia, artworks and those of his friends and people who inspired him. They were all found tucked away in the home of Rolande Verneiges after she died in 2008 – she was an “unrecognised but protected” daughter of Monet’s son Michel, according to Christie’s. Michel had given away all of his father’s major works to museums, but passed on the more personal pieces to Verneiges. 

Works by Monet in the sale include relatively affordable sketches, such as Promeneur Assis au Pied d’un Saule (1857) with an estimate of US$10,240 to US$15,360, as well as a small oil painting called Falaises des Petites-Dalles (1884) that is valued at US$1.5 million to US$2.3 million.

There are also paintings by Auguste Rodin, Edouard Manet, as well as Monet’s painter stepdaughter Blanche Hoschedé Monet, and a selection from his large collection of Japanese Edo-period woodblock prints. 

Christie’s will have other Impressionist paintings at its “Loaded Brush” selling exhibition. This is a private sale of Western art and prices have not been made public, but the 30-odd works are on view from November 24 to 27, including Andy Warhol’s Liz #2 [Early Colored Liz] (1963), Roy Lichtenstein’s Vicki! I – I Thought I Heard Your Voice (1964), Pablo Picasso’s Jeune Fille Endormie (1935) and works by Henri Matisse, Monet, Rembrandt and Mark Rothko. 

There is also a preview of the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller before Christie’s starts selling it in batches from spring next year in New York. This is one of the most significant private collections and includes paintings such as Picasso’s Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie (1905) and Matisse’s Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923). 

 Phillips is also bringing a large number of Western pieces to its ‘20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design’ evening sale on November 26. One of the top lots by value is Richard Prince’s Nurse Kathy (2006-2008). This disturbing image of a nurse wearing a surgical mask is a “very special” work by Prince, says Jonathan Crockett, deputy chairman of Asia at Phillips, and it is being brought to Hong Kong because there has been good interest from Chinese collectors. It is estimated at US$3.9 million to US$5.2 million.

Hong Kong’s autumn art auctions boosted by diversity of lots

The auction house is also selling Hong Kong (1985) by Basquiat – one of the darlings of the contemporary art market at the moment. The artist made it during his visit to the city. Nonsensical English words for an anti-itch cream and a dragon’s head may well be references to what he saw here. The value is estimated at US$499,000 to US$704,000.  

 On the whole, the Hong Kong auction scene is still dominated by more traditional categories that attract Asian collectors: Chinese antiques, Chinese modern paintings, Asian contemporary art and jewellery. 

At Christie’s the top lot by value is a 14.93-carat fancy vivid pink diamond valued at US$28.1 million to US$41 million, followed by a Wucai “fish” jar and cover from the Ming Jiajing period (1522-1566) that is estimated at more than US$19 million. This jar is being sold by Taiwanese businessman Robert Tsao Hsing-cheng, whose Le Cong Tang collection sold a Northern Song dynasty brush washer at Sotheby’s in October for US$37.7 million, breaking the auction record for Chinese ceramics. 

North Korean propaganda posters on show in Hong Kong

Collectors of modern Chinese paintings will be closely watching the sale of Fu Baoshi’s The Song of the Pipa Player (1945), for which Christie’s has not publicly given an estimate. Once owned by Kung Hsiang-hsi, the painting was last sold at auction in November 2010 for US$9 million, then a record for the artist. The latest record for Fu’s work was set in 2016 when his The God of Cloud and Great Lord of Fate (1954) was sold for 230 million yuan (US$34.7 million) by Beijing Poly. 

Here is where the major auctions are happening in Hong Kong in the coming week: 

Bonhams

Suite 2001, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty 

Nov 26 to 28

Christie’s

Grand Hall, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai 

Preview starts Nov 23. Sales from Nov 24 to 29

Phillips

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 5 Connaught Road, Central 

Preview starts Nov 23. Sales from November 26 to 28

Seoul Auctions

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai 

Preview starts Nov 24. Sales on Nov 26,

Tokyo Chuo

Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central

Nov 24 to 27