Sotheby’s moves its Hong Kong Modern and Contemporary sales to New York


Sotheby’s will now host its major spring Hong Kong auctions in New York as a result of the growing threat of coronavirus in the China region.

Earlier scheduled to take place during Hong Kong art week, between April 3rd and 8th, the Modern evening sale and Contemporary evening and day sales will now take place on April 16th.   

The bar is set very high through past Sotheby’s Asian sales, with a 92% sell-through rate for contemporary art in 2019. In fact, Western contemporary artists brought in a total $90m for the same period, accounting for a 63.3% market share in the region according a report from the auctioneer.  

Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, said in a statement that the “strategic decision” followed “careful consideration and reflection on nearly 50 years of working with our clients in Asia.

The sales moved will be the Modern art evening sale, and Contemporary evening and day sales. Leading the Contemporary evening sale is David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers (1996), which carries a pre-sale estimate of $10m. While the Modern art sale is headlined by Sanyu’s Quatre nus (1950), a much-awaited work depicting four female nudes. 

Sanyu’s Quatre Nus (1950s)

The auction house has also postponed some remaining Hong Kong sales though it has not yet decided whether their venue might change. These include those with Chinese works of art, classical and modern Chinese paintings, modern art, Southeast Asian art and jewellery and have been postponed to the first week of July.

Chinese contemporary artists saw a 88% sell-through rate in Hong Kong and a total of $43.2m in 2019.

The announcement also follows a postponement of March Asian art auctions, in New York, from six auctioneers – Bonhams, Doyle, Christie’s, Heritage Auctions, iGavel and Sotheby’s – to the week of June 21st. Christie’s has also rescheduled the Hong Kong 20th century and contemporary art evening and day sales for the end of May.