David Bowie

David Bowie artworks go on display at Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery

The most valuable item on display is a painting by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which could sell for as much as HK$33 million at a London auction

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 7:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 10:52pm

Hong Kong fans of the late British rock star David Bowie will have the chance to appreciate more than 30 items including a painting that could fetch as much as £3.5 million (HK$33.3 million) from the musician’s personal art collection.

The exhibition in the city is the last part of a global tour ahead of the auction of more than 350 Bowie artworks in London on November 10 and 11.

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The most valuable item is a five-foot painting, Air Power, by acclaimed American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which is on display at Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery in Admiralty until Saturday.

Bowie bought the painting at an auction in London for about £78,500 in 1995. It is now expected to fetch up to £3.5 million.

The bulk of exhibits on display in Hong Kong are works by 20th century British artists, including paintings, sculptures and designs. They include Sunrise in the Mountain by David Bomberg, and Head of Gerda Boehm by Frank Auerbach.

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“David was born and brought up in London. He collected things that meant something to him. He did not just buy random arts,” said Frances Christie, who is senior director handling modern and post-war British art at Sotheby’s in London.

“He would read and read all those books, met artists and made sure he knew all the right dealers,” Christie said, adding the busy rock star even went to auctions himself to feel the atmosphere. “He invested a lot of time [in art].”

In addition to his UK collection, Bowie was also passionate about contemporary African art.

During a visit to Africa in the mid-1990s, Bowie waited for hours to talk to Romuald Hazoume, a relatively unknown artist from Benin, to find out more about the meaning of the artist’s works, according to Christie.

Visitors to Bowie’s Hong Kong exhibition will find a mask made of discarded petrol canisters and Coca-Cola cans – one of the mask series created by Hazoume.

Bowie was active in the music industry for more than four decades, releasing 27 studio albums over the course of his career. His last, Blackstar, came out just before he died of cancer in January.

Bowie did not just have a successful music career. His acting work was also well received, including his performances in The Man Who Fell to Earth and as Jareth in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

The musician also worked as an art editor for a London magazine, Modern Painters, in the 1990s. During that time, he interviewed prominent British artist Damien Hirst.