The Hong Kong art auction market is showing signs of a return to post-pandemic life with the sale on Tuesday of the most expensive Western artwork to ever be auctioned in Asia.
“Warrior,” a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, was sold in a Christie’s single lot auction for $ 323.6 million HK ($ 41.9 million) including commissions.
The price surpassed the record set by Gerhard Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (649-2), which reached HK $ 214.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction in October 2020.
The Basquiat auction was broadcast live by Christie’s in Hong Kong, with bids starting at HK $ 160 million before closing at HK $ 280 million when sold to an Asian buyer.
“Warrior” was last listed at an auction in London in 2012, when it grossed around 5.6million pounds ($ 7.8million). The value of painting has jumped over 400% since then.
It was a dark time in the global art and auction markets as Covid-19 took its toll. In 2020, global sales of art and antiques fell 22% to $ 50.1 billion, according to a market report published last week by Art Basel and UBS Group AG.
The report showed that the US market retained its leading position, with 42% of global sales by value. Greater China and the UK were each far behind at 20%. However, Greater China has overtaken the United States to become the largest public auction market, with a 36% share of sales by value, according to the report.
Aggregate online sales nonetheless reached a record high of $ 12.4 billion, doubling in value from 2019, according to the report. The share attributed to online sales has also increased, from 9% of total sales by value in 2019 to 25% in 2020, the first time that the share of online sales has surpassed general retail sales in the online market. ‘art.
“The year 2020 marked a turning point for digital innovation in the art market,” said Christl Novakovic, CEO of UBS Europe SE and Chairman of the UBS Art Board.
“The move to online platforms has allowed collection, increased transparency and strengthened the market even when national lockdowns forced galleries, live auctions and museums to close,” she said.
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