World-renowned Western contemporary art works worth up to US$19.2 million dollars sold at auctions (Part 1)

Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Auctions will soon take place on 9 October, with blockbuster lots will be unveiled one after another.

One of the highlights of the contemporary art evening sale is led by Basquiat's masterpiece, Untitled (Red Warrior), created in 1982. It is estimated at HK$150 million to 200 million (around US$19.2 to 25.7 million) dollars. 

Basquiat’s artworks are the most expensive for an American artist. A blue-coloured Warrior (1982) sold for HK$323.6 million (around US$41.5 million) dollars earlier in March, becoming the most expensive Western artwork ever sold in Asia.

At next month’s Sotheby’s sale, Untitled (Red Warrior) will be auctioned alongside works from Western and Eastern contemporary artists. Joan Mitchell, Adrian Ghenie and Roy Lichtenstein's artworks are amongst the most expensive artworks from Western contemporary art sold at the auctions, and will be discussed below. 

This piece is one of two articles of highlight artworks sold at Sotheby's auctions – this first one discusses Western contemporary art works, while the second discusses Eastern contemporary art works.   

Western Contemporary Art

Jean-Michel Basquiat | Untitled (Red Warrior), acrylic and oil stick on linen

Created in 1982 
195.6 x 198 cm 

  • Larry Gagosian, Los Angeles
  • Private Collection, USA
  • Fred Hoffman Gallery, New York
  • Vrej Baghoomian, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimated Price: HK$150,000,000 – 200,000,000 (around US$19.2-25.7 million)

An iconic portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat


Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century. Basquiat is best known for his artwork called Untitled (1982), depicting a skull. It sold at Sotheby's New York for a record US$110.5 million dollars in May 2017, and became the highest price ever paid at auction for an American artist. 

A blue-coloured Warrior (1982) sold for HK$323.6 million (around US$41.5 million) dollars earlier in March, becoming the most expensive Western artwork ever sold in Asia.

Drawing from his Afro-Caribbean roots, Basquiat challenged Western histories by depicting influential personalities of the African diaspora as heroes and saints. These figures included musicians and athletes, such as saxophonist Charlie Parker, as well as boxers Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.  

Basquiat's Untitled (1982) depicts a skull and was sold for a record-breaking US$110.5 million dollars | Sotheby's New York, May 2017

Basquiat's championed figures of the African diaspora including American boxer and heavyweight world champion, Joe Louis, in his artwork called St. Joe Louis Surrounded by Snakes (1982)

Auction Records – Hong Kong 

Here is a brief recap of Basquiat’s paintings also sold at Hong Kong auctions this year for more than HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) dollars. Sorted by price, the top three are (pictures below):

1. Warrior|1982|Size: 183 x 122 cm|Sale price: HK$323,600,000 (around US$41.5 million)|Christie's Hong Kong, March 2021

2. Untitled Wooden Board Triptych|1985|Size: 217.2 x 275.6 x 30.5cm|Sold Price: HK$289,316,000 (around US$37.1 million)|Sotheby's Hong Kong, June 2021

3. Untitled|1982|Size: 182.9 x 121.9 cm|Sale price: HK$234,290,000 (around US$30.1 million)|Christie's Hong Kong, May 2021


The blue-coloured Warrior sold for HK$323.6 million (around US$41.5 million) dollars earlier in March, with a size of 183 by 122 cm and an average value of HK$14,494 (around US$1,862) dollars per cm².

Red Warrior measures 195.6 by 198 cm, which is 73 per cent larger than the blue-coloured Warrior. Based on the value per cm² of the blue-coloured Warrior, the value of Red Warrior exceeds HK$560 million (US$71.9 million) dollars.

Whether this artwork can be sold at such an exaggerated price, and become the newly-crowned most expensive Western contemporary art sold in Asia remains to be seen.

Warrior's (1982) protagonist was painted mainly using blue and black|Christie's Hong Kong, March 2021

This Warrior's (1982) protagonist was painted mainly using red 

Joan Mitchell | Untitled, oil on canvas

Created in 1967 
200 x 150 cm

  • Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris
  • Private Collection 
  • Christie's, New York, 11 May 2004, Lot 23
  • Acquired from the above sale by the present owner 

Estimated Price: HK$50,000,000 – 60,000,000 (around US$6.4-7.7 million)

Mitchell's Syrtis painting (1961) | Sotheby's Hong Kong, September 2018


Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) was one of the most important members of American artistic movement Abstract Expressionism, and one of its few female artists to achieve international acclaim. Mitchell’s impressive career spanned more than 40 years and saw her work in a diverse range of mediums, including oil on canvas, water colour and pastel on paper.

This will mark Mitchell’s second appearance at auction in Asia following her debut with Syrtis (1961) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in September 2018. It sold for HK$56.5 million (around US$7.2 million) dollars.


Mitchell moved to a studio in the French town of Vetheuil in 1967. Inspired by the French countryside, she incorporated themes of nature and landscape in her paintings. 

The American artist's painting, Untitled (1967), reflects the stylistic shift in Mitchell’s abstract work, as she began painting on larger canvases. They were mediums which carried her visual incidents, feelings, memories and associations. Though attuned to the trees, flowers and fields that surrounded her, it was not simply the forms of nature that inspired Mitchell  it was also the light and air, the wind rustling the leaves, or the heat of a hot, windless day.

Adrian Ghenie | The Death of Charles Darwin, oil on canvas

Created in 2013 
280 x 260 cm 

  • Pace Gallery, New York 
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner 

Estimated Price: HK$50,000,000 – 60,000,000 (around US$6.4-7.7 million)


The Romanian artist paints dark, eery canvases that weave together personal and collective memories related to the traumas of European history. The artist is preoccupied with ideologies such as communism and eugenics, throughout his work.

Exploring the idea of self and identity in his canvas works since 2010, Ghenie incorporates the recognisable forms of historical figures, such as Vincent Van Gogh and Charles Darwin into his paintings.


Scrutinizing Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection as the trigger of a paradigm shift in history, Ghenie is particularly interested in Darwin’s legacy.

Expanding upon Darwinism, Ghenie proposes an interpretive path into the notion of survival. He reads into the theory of biological evolutionism and the ways it has been skewed to transform societies.

Ghenie's Self-Portrait in 1945 (2015)

Roy Lichtenstein | Reflections: Mystical Painting, oil and magna on canvas  

Created in 1989 
142.5 x 190.5 cm 

  • Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
  • Collection of Marieluise Hessel (acquired in 1989)
  • Christie's, New York, 14 May 2003, Lot 1232
  • Acquired from the above sale by the present owner 

Estimated Price: HK$30,000,000 – 45,000,000 (around US$3.8-5.7 million)


American artist, Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), was the forerunner of a new artistic wave called Pop art

He used a method of painting called Ben-Day dot (named after American illustrator Benjamin Day Jr.) on large canvases, making his creations full of comics. 

In Reflections: Mystical Painting (1989) the screaming man with spy goggles is taken from an X-Men comic. American comics in the 1950s often used four simple colours: red, yellow, blue and black. By arranging and stacking dots of different colours at different intervals, the effect of different tones is created.


Reflections: Mystical Painting is an archetypal example from Roy Lichtenstein’s important series, Reflections Paintings (1988-1993). During this period, the artist continues his interrogation of perception and the abstract nature of reality.

Lichtenstein presents the image as if viewed through a glass frame, using diagonal strips that slice through the canvas to suggest the reflection and refraction of light, urging the viewer to make sense of its various fragments.

Lichtenstein's Reflect on Thud! (1990)

Similar works

Reflections on Thud! (1990) is one of Lichtenstein's Reflections series of paintings. This series of paintings focuses on the diagonal depiction, which looks like a portrait mounted under a glass frame.

The onomatopoeia Thud (bang)! in the upper right corner of the screen is full of Lichtenstein's signature comic strip flavour.

Auction Details

Auction House: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Date: 9 October 2021
Sale: Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Location: Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery Space | 5/F One Pacific Place

Exhibition Preview

Date: 7-9 October 2021
Location: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre