Watch Out For These Asian Masters at Christie’s This Autumn in Hong Kong

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This season, Christie’s Hong Kong presents a thoughtful and curated line-up of art, underscoring the seamless blending of Western influences and Asian roots achieved by various Asian masters during the peak of their artistic practices. From Sanyu and Foujita to Yoshitomo Nara and Liu Ye, these iconic masterpieces stretch across Asian art history from the 1920s to 2010s.

‘Five Nudes’ by Sanyu, one of the most important works of 20th-century art, will lead the sales at Christie’s this season. This masterpiece is the highest estimated work offered at auction in Asia so far this year. ‘Five Nudes’ is the largest painting of nude figures Sanyu ever created, and is the only painting to feature five figures in a single composition – the greatest number in his entire oeuvre.

A masterpiece by Yoshitomo Nara will also be presented in a stand-alone, single-lot auction this season, directly following the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on November 23rd. Not only does this mark an unprecedented sale strategy in Hong Kong, but it also demonstrates the painting’s tremendous importance within both the artist’s oeuvre and the offerings at auction this season.

The evening will also see the debut of an innovative new evening sale. HI-LITE features an electrifying selection of works inspired by bold flattened forms, bright colors, and clean lines, referencing images appropriated from popular media and fashion, music, graffiti and animation.

LARRY’S LIST highlights 10 works from the auctions and looks into some collectors’ remarks on some of these artists!



1)    SANYU
Collectors of Sanyu include: Maggie and Richard Tsai, Pierre Chen, and Alan Chan (data provided by Larry’s List)

翁美慧Collector Maggie Tsai reveals that in a fire, she would grab… works by Sanyu, who is her all-time favourite.[1]

Sanyu’s Five Nudes isleading the sale this and is the highest estimated work offered at auction in Asia so far this year. The painting is the largest of nude figures Sanyu ever created, and is the only painting to feature five figures in a single composition—the greatest number in his entire oeuvre. 

‘Five Nudes’
Estimate: HK$250,000,000-550,000,000 / US$33,000,000-70,000,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale


2)    ZAO WOU-KI
Collectors of Zao Wou-Ki include: Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, Pierre Chen, Wang Zhongjun, Zheng Hao (data provided by Larry’s List)

Christie’s is a market-leader for Zao Wou-Ki, and the line-up of works proves that this season is no exception. Standing out from the line-up is ‘24.12.59’, a striking painting that bridges the artist’s Oracle Bone and Hurricane periods. Completed on Christmas Eve of 1959, the ingenious interplay of light, colour and shadow suggests the breathtaking image of northern lights piercing the darkness.

Estimate: HK$80,000,000-120,000,000 / US$11,000,000-15,000,00
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale


Collectors of Nara include: Adrian Cheng, Lu Xun, Daisuke Miyatsu, and Zhou Chong (data provided by Larry’s List)

14-Budi-Tek--e1489573293860Yuz Museum in Shanghai, founded by collector Budi Tek, is going to collaborate with LACMA for Yoshitomo Nara’s upcoming touring retrospective. Budi Tek once noted, “I need a big space because I have several very large installations.” Among his collection is “Bintang House” by Yoshimoto Nara, a wooden hut with windows that allow the viewer to peek inside what looks like an artist’s studio, with many of Nara’s trademark manga-style drawings on the walls and floor.[2]

A focal point of this season’s Hong Kong salesis Yoshitomo Nara’s seminal ‘Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes’, which offers a monumental vision of an artist at the pinnacle of his mature artistic output.This work has been specifically requested by the artist to be featured as a major highlight of his upcoming survey exhibition, which will debut at the LACMA, Los Angeles and will then travel to the YUZ Museum in Shanghai, Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Kunsthal Rotterdam.

‘Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes’
Estimate on request
 Can’t Wait ’til the Night Comes: A Masterpiece by Yoshitomo Nara, 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale


Collectors of Foujita include: Ok-jin Shin, Farhat Naim, and Tokushichi Hasegawa (data provided by Larry’s List)

This masterpiece is a rare example of a large-scale nude painting from Foujita’s mature “milky white” style of painting. Among currently known examples of Foujita’s paintings of a single nude figure, only eight works boast dimensions equal to or greater than this work; four of those reside in institutional collections. The painting depicts Lucie Badoul, Foujita’s muse and third wife, also known as Youki.

‘Nu allongé au bras levé (Nude lying with raised arm)’
Estimate:HK$25,000,000-35,000,000 / US$3,300,000-4,500,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale



Collectors of Kim include: T.O.P, Hyun Sook Lee, and Ok-jin Shin (data provided by Larry’s List) Hyun Sook Lee described her most treasured work in her collection, “It’s hard to pick just one! Each work means a lot to me, but if I had to choose from the Korean works I own, I would say both Kim Whanki and Park Su-geun. They are two of the treasured artists in my Korean collection.[3]

Kim Whan-Ki’s monumental canvas ‘05-IV-71 #200 (Universe)’ is widely regarded to be one of the most important paintings in the artist’s oeuvre, and is one of the major highlights of the season. This is the only diptych that the artist ever painted and the largest painting that Kim ever created. It has resided in the collection of Dr. Matthew Kim for the past 40 years, since it was purchased directly from the artist the year of its completion.

‘05-IV-71 #200 (Universe)’
Estimate:HK$48,000,000-62,000,000 / US$6,000,000-8,000,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale



6)    LIU YE
Collectors of Liu Ye include:  Thomas Olbricht, LONG Museum, SONG Museum, Budi Tek, Haryanto Adikoesoemo (data provided by Larry’s List)

This is one of three paintings by the Chinese contemporary artist that will be presented in the Evening sale this season. “Red could symbolize revolution, joy, violence or bloodiness,” stated Liu Ye. This work is part of an iconic series of paintings in which red is the dominant colour.

‘Red No. 2’
Estimate:HK$12,000,000-18,000,000 / US$1,600,000-2,300,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale


7)    KAWS
Collectors of KAWS:Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, Kayne West, Kevin Poon, Kong Karoon Sosothikul, Swizz Beats (data provided by Larry’s List)

Painted in 2016, VANQUISHED is one of the most recent works created by KAWS. Though initially abstract in appearance, the present work is nonetheless characterized by the artist’s trademark ‘X’ symbol, skewed and obscured beneath layers of pattern.

HKD 4,800,000-HKD 6,000,000 / USD 620,000-USD 770,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale


Collectors of Murakami include:  Fraçois Pinault, Kanye West, Damien Hirst, Kong Karoon Sosothikul, Dakis Joannou, Anita & Poju Zabludowicz, Mera & Don Rubell, Zheng Hao, and Amy & John Phelan (data provided by Larry’s List)

This unique work, reappearing on the market for the first time since its debut in 2009, features a selection of everyday consumer objects made using 26,0000 gemstones and precious metals. Featuring an incarnation of Murakami’s most beloved character creation Mr. DOB, ‘The Simple Things’ not only serves as a commentary on consumer culture and modern living, but is also a landmark product of collaboration between Murakami and Williams, and has featured in many important international exhibitions of Murakami’s work.

‘The Simple Things’
Estimate: HK$20,000,000-30,000,000 / US$2,600,000-3,800,000
Sale: HI-LITE Evening Sale


Collectors of Shiraga include: Wang Wei & Liu Yiqian, Cindy & Howard Rachofsky, and Toru Yamashita (data provided by Larry’s List)

As the most influential member of Gutai, Shiraga focused on the body in space with the attentiveness of a religious adherent throughout his life Shiraga, and he continued to explore the relationships between materiality, body, and spirit. The name of Shiraga’s 1974 ‘Fudo Gomagu’ means ‘fire ritual and offering of provision for the Immovable King of Brightness.’ Its inspiration derives from the Tantric homa ritual, in which devotees place various items in a burning fire.

‘Fudo Gomagu’
HK$8,000,000 – 12,000,000 / US$1,100,000 – 1,500,000
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale



Collectors of Israel include: Angela & Massimo Lauro, Rosa & Carlos de la Cruz, and Abdullah Al Turki (data provided by Larry’s List)

abdullah-al-turki-v2Abdullah Al-Turkionce claimed, ‘and last week I was out and about with Alex Israel, one of the hot artists of the moment.’[4]

Alex Israel’s work is deeply connected to Los Angeles where he grew up. In his series of large-scale, unframed paintings entitled ‘Sky Backdrop’, Israel translates the movie industry’s hazy blend of reality and fantasy into art. Executed in 2013, the present work glows with a sumptuous blend of pink and blue hues, reminiscent of a candy-coloured Californian sunset.

‘Sky Backdrop’
Estimate: HK$4,000,000-6,000,000 / US$520,000-770,000
Sale: HI-LITE Evening Sale


[1]‘Asia’s 50 Biggest Art Collectors: 2019 Edition’, Hong Kong Tatler

[2]‘Asian Collectors Showcase Works’, The New York Times

[3]‘Hyun-Sook Lee in Conversation’, Ocula

[4]‘A Strategy of Parties and Purchases’, WSJ