Jonathan Crockett, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia, brings down the hammer on Jean-Michel Basquiat's Thermopolae (1985). 

Amid the buzz of one of the art world’s biggest weeks in Hong Kong, Phillips saw the highest-ever total for a 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design auction series ever staged in Asia. Realizing a total of HK$271 million across the Evening and Day Sales, these results continue the consistent trend of year-over-year growth at Phillips. Jonathan Crockett, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art and Deputy Chairman, Asia, and Isaure de Viel Castel, Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong, both noted that “the Evening Sale saw a 100% increase from the previous year, in addition to the 29% increase in our Day Sale.”

Across both auctions, eight new artist records were set. The Evening Sale saw new records for MADSAKI, Stanley Whitney, Bernard Frize and Natee Utarit, while the next day records were broken for Joyce Pensato, Felipe Pantone and Daniel Arsham.

Genieve Figgis Birth of Venus (After Alexandre Cabanel), 2018. Sold for HK$2,375,000, setting a new artist record. 

Incredibly, Phillips broke the standing record for white-hot Irish painter Genieve Figgis twice. A Social Portrait, Lot 1 in the Evening Sale, sailed past its high estimate of HK$180,000 to sell for HK$1,875,000. That short-lived record would only last until the next afternoon, however, when her painting Birth of Venus (After Alexandre Cabanel) sold for HK$2,375,000.

Phillips has consistently pursued a strategy of striking a balance between the very best of Asian and international art in our Hong Kong Sales. According to Crockett and de Viel Castel, “we were particularly excited to make the Asian auction debut for six Western artists, whose works all ignited a bidding frenzy, including Helen Frankenthaler, Lynn Chadwick, Pat Steir, Joyce Pensato, André Butzer and Jonathan Lyndon Chase.”

Zao Wou-Ki 29.05-31.10.68, 1968. Sold for HK$32,550,000. 

This approach was further validated by the Evening Sale’s leading lots. In the top spot was Zao Wou-Ki’s 1968 masterpiece 29.05-31.10.68, which realized HK$32,550,000. Close behind was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Thermopolae, a diptych executed on a wooden door and fence, which sold for HK$31,950,000. 

It was also a stand-out sale for Danish and American Design. Works included in the Day Sale saw a 100% sell-through rate yet again, proving the immense potential for growth the category is seeing in this region.

As the Phillips fall season comes to a close in Asia, we look forward to upcoming Jewels, Watches, New Now and Design auctions slated to take place in New York and London.