Javier Calleja Breaks Out in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Contemporary Sale

During Sotheby’s Hong Kong Contemporary art sales this past weekend, all of the action was in the day sale lots. The sale made $22.5m, an all-time high for a Hong Kong Contemporary art day sale; and, all but one of the top ten most dynamic lots—those bid highest above their pre-sale estimates—were works offered in the Contemporary art day sale. 

What does this tell us? Collectors are looking for the next big thing. 

The biggest of the next big things is clearly Javier Calleja. Three of the Spanish artist’s works were in the top ten lots. Each of the three made a hammer ratio (he hammer price divided by the low estimate) of between 6 and 8 times the low estimate. The price points varied with two works just about in the $250-300k range and one coming at more than double with a $755k premium price. 

The most aggressively bid upon work was Mr. Doodle’s Tokyo Doodle which sold for $650,000 outperforming the artist’s other work that sold well in the Evening sale the day before. Together, works made only two years ago sold for $1.1m over the weekend. 

Mr. Doodle, Tokyo Doodle, $651k

Zhang Yingnan’s first public sale outside of Mainland China was a huge success with Song of the Sunset selling for ten times the low estimate for a work made the previous year. 

Zhang Yingnan, Song of the Sunset, $131k

Atushi Kaga’s “I think it was a nightmare” is a a 2020 painting made by a Japanese artist acquired in an Irish gallery and sold in Hong Kong.  The final price represents a four fold increase from the two previous public sales of the artist’s work. 

Atsushi Kaga, “I think it was a nightmare”, $229k

From an exhibition held two years ago at New York’s Allouche gallery, Rafa Macarrón’s first appearance in an Evening sale for his second work ever sold at auction was a rousing success when it made $550k, the third highest value lot on this list.

Rafa Macarrón, $552k

Tomokazu Matsuyama’s market has accelerated this year with a very strong sale at Christie’s in Hong Kong in May for an earlier work from 2011. This tondo from a series that was selling 6 years ago for $20k has now achieved what might be seen as a confirmation price. The $260k paid for the work was significantly below the record set in May but well above previous prices suggesting some depth in the market at these new levels. 

Tomokazu Matsuyama, $262k

Susumu Kamijo’s paintings of his dogs have been steadily gaining value over the past year on the auction market. The $90k paid for Rapport Building is right in line with prices paid in May and June in New York.  

Susumu Kamijo, $90k

Edgar Plans painting Love in a Forest comes to market a few weeks after Phillips achieved a record price of $195k in Hong Kong. Plans market has been very active in 2021 with the previous high water mark set in July at Christie’s in New York. This $80k confirmation price suggests more buyers are waiting in the wings. 

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