On Thursday, Phillips wrapped its $9.4 million across contemporary day sale in Hong Kong after a successful $26 million evening auction the day prior. Jonathan Crockett, Phillips Chairman of Asia, directed the auction of 39 lots, realizing a 94 percent sell-through rate.
The top lot of the day sale was Chinese painter Liu Ye‘s single-figure nude Girl! (2004), which sold for HKD 7.8 million ($1.01 million), nearly doubling its pre-sale low value. Liu’s work set a new record in Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale, ringing in the second-highest sum ever reached for a work sold in an Asian auction.
The sale marked the Asian auction debut for French-born, Los Angeles–based painter Claire Tabouret, with her 2015 painting Les déguisements (Disguises) besting its high estimate of HKD 750,000 ($96,200) five times over, establishing a new record for the artist at HKD 3.5 million ($451,500). The result far surpassed her previous record price of $81,250, which was achieved earlier this year. The work comes to a new audience abroad following the figurative painter’s recent exhibition at Los Angeles’s Night Gallery in February.
Japanese artist and global auction staple Yoshitomo Nara’s Wheels Go Round (1994) hammered at the high end of its estimate, selling for HKD 3.8 million ($483,750). Chinese artist Chu Teh-Chun’s No.111 (2011) made HKD 2.4 million ($307,000).
With its emerging names competing for big sales alongside blue-chip ones, the sale extended Phillips’s reach as a global leader in the contemporary middle market. The auction established six new artist records for contemporary names alongside Tabouret, among them Maria Taniguchi, Cleon Peterson, and Ruben Pang. An untitled Maria Taniguchi’s work from 2016 went for HKD 437,500 ($56,400), tripling its pre-sale low estimate of HKD 160,000 ($20,644).
This auction’s total sales were up 31 percent from the 2019 spring season equivalent, which brought in $7.2 million. Thursday’s sale also shows a steady increase from the $6.6 million brought in by a similar Phillips Hong Kong auction held in fall 2018, the first contemporary day sale staged in the city by the house.
Chinese painter Firenze Lai, an auction newcomer, was represented at auction by a gray-scale ink on paper figurative work, The Army (2014), which sold for HKD $237,500 ($30,644). The work made more than five times its low estimated value of HKD 40,000 ($5,100).
Vying bidders also drove up numbers for in-demand primary-market darlings like Genieve Figgis, Daniel Arsham, and Nicolas Party. Figgis’s 2014 painting Ladies Picnic sold for five times its low estimate of HKD 200,000 ($25,600), finding a buyer for HKD 1.01 million ($132,300)—which is still a third of the Irish artist’s record of over $300,000, realized at a Phillips Hong Kong sale in November 2019.