Following successful contemporary art sales in March in New York and London, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 2 April totaled what the action house describes as an “exceptional” US$73.6 million. It had a sell-through rate of 90 percent by lot and value and set four new artist records for: Hsiao Chin (La danza di luce 16, sold for US$320,513 to a European private collector); Le Pho (Family Life sold for US$1,166,667); Joseph Inguimberty (Le Hamac (The Hammock) sold for US$966,667), and Vincente Silva Manansala (Tiange (Market Scene), sold for US$751,282).
However, the top lot of the night was Andy Warhol’s Mao work, sold for US$12.6 million against a US$12-15 million estimate, the highest price for any piece of Western contemporary art in Asia to date. Completed in 1973, the red and gold acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas is one of a series of 22 paintings of Chairman Mao painted by Warhol in the 1970s, following President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. “There was strong interest among Asian buyers across the four categories of paintings on offer including our top lot, Mao by the American Pop art master Andy Warhol which sold to an Asian private collector,” said Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, who added that the “encouraging result is further evidence of Hong Kong’s role in the global market of contemporary art.”