Rising market stars sparkled at US$17.9m Christie's HK post-millennium evening sale

Hot on the heels of last night's Christie's 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale, the air in the Hong Kong saleroom continued to intensify for the house's debut Post-Millennium Evening Sale, a thematic auction dedicated to the artworks created after 2000.

Affirming the market's accelerating interests for emerging artists, only one of the 17 lots offered went unsold, which led the sale total to HK$139.6 million (around US$17.9 million) with a strong sell-through rate of 94%.

Four lots in the sale managed to soar beyond the HK$10-million benchmark, including Swiss artist Nicolas Party's Blue Sunset, selling for a record-setting HK$52 million (around US$6.7 million) against a low estimate of HK$38 million. 

Auctioneer Georgina Hilton

Lot 88 | Nicolas Party | Blue Sunset, Soft pastel on linen (Auction record for the artist)
Created in 2018
180 x 150.2 cm

  • Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Private Collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$38,000,000 - 48,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$43,000,000
Sold: HK$52,050,000 (around US$6.7 million)

Nicolas Party is a Swiss-born painter and sculptor known for his vibrant, fantastical and somewhat strange figurative scenes. Focusing on portraits, still lifes and landscapes, his works are primarily executed in soft pastel, a nortoriously volatile and challenging medium, yet one that allowed him to create an over-saturated palette calls to mind the work of Fauvist master Henri Matisse. 

With a growing appetite in Asia, the artist's first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, Red Forest, was held at Hauser & Wirth earlier this year. 

Nicolas Party

Landscape (2021) | Sold: US$3,270,000, Christie's New York, 2021

Last year, his Landscape, measuring 109.2 x 91.4 cm, sold nearly 11 times its low estimate of US$300,000 for a record-setting US$3.27 million at Christie's New York. In Hong Kong, his works had also reached the HK$10-million benchmark for multiple times.

With an estimate between HK$38 and 48 million, the present Blue Sunset is set to renew the emerging artist's auction record. 

Bidding started at HK$28 million and it immediately attracted four interested bidders. After a total of eight bids, it was hammered for HK$43 million, a victorious bid placed by the telephone bidder with paddle number 8318, represented by Jacky Ho, Head of Evening Sale in Asia. With fees, the lot sold for HK$52 million (around US$6.7 million) to surpass his previous record by US$3.5 million. 

Lot 90 | Avery Singer | The Great Muses, Acrylic on canvas
Created in 2013
220 x 196 cm

  • Private Collection, Berlin
  • Acquired at the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$20,000,000 - 30,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$19,000,000
Sold: HK$23,250,000 (around US$3 million)

The second most expensive lot of sale was Avery Singer's The Great Muses, fetching HK$23.2 million (around US$3 million) with fees.

​​​​Born in 1987 and raised by artist parents, Singer grew up in lower Manhattan and spent lots of time on art and museums from a young age. She went on to study sculpture at the esteemed Cooper Union in New York, and later developed her interests in architectural computer modelling before landing on the medium of painting, making her a painter with sculptor’s eyes.

Equipped with such background, Singer pioneers her new way of painting by conceiving her intricate spatial compositions and digital motifs in 3D modeling software Google SketchUp before projecting them onto canvas. She then transfers the geometric, computer-generated hybrid images onto the canvas using the airbrush, a tool widely applied in advertising, architecture, and graphic design instead of Fine Arts.

Avery Singer

Happening (2014) | Sold: US$5,253,000, Sotheby's New York, May 2022

Pushing the boundaries of contemporary paintings, her innovative artworks now reside in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Tate Modern in London; and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. 

At age 35, her auction record has already reached US$5.2 million, set by her large canvas Happening when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's New York this past May. 

Lot 87 | Lucy Bull | Phoenix, Oil on linen
Created in 2019
205.7 x 145 cm

  • SMART OBJECTS, Los Angeles
  • Private Collection
  • Acquired at the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 15,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$8,500,000
Sold: HK$10,650,000 (around US$1.4 million)

In May this year, American artist Lucy Bull debuted at auction with an impressive result of US$907,200. A month later, 8:50, her second painting to be offered at auction, set her bar high when it fetched a record HK$11.4 million (around US$1.5 million) against a low estimate of HK$1 million.

Born in New York in 1990, Bull is a contemporary artist based in Los Angeles primarily known for her dreamlike paintings. In 2012, Bull earned her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has since dazzled the art world with her exuberant compositions.

After a breakout show at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles last year, she has become darling of both collectors and critics alike: the former jostling for her arenas of psychedelia, the latter heralding her as the new champion of Western abstraction.

Her works are now collected by prestigious cultural institutions around the world, such as Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art , Geneva; and the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Lucy Bull

8:50 (2020) | Sold: HK$11,382,000, Philips Hong Kong, 2022

Lot 91 | Takashi Murakami | Hands Clapsed, Acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on aluminum frame
Created in 2015
180.2 x 240.3 cm

  • Perrotin, Hong Kong
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$12,000,000 - 18,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$8,500,000
Sold: HK$10,650,000 (around US$1.4 million)

Takashi Murakami is celebrated as the founder of the Japanese Superflat art movement, which is inspired by manga or anime. The present Hands Clapsed, which sold for HK$10.6 million (around US$1.4 million) features his most iconic character, Mr. DOB.

The original Mr. DOB, which came to life in 1993, was Murakami’s take to introduce Japanese contemporary art to the international stage. Its name is a derivative of Dobojite - a Japanese slang for "why," and is inspired by popular cultural figures of both anime and manga, such as Mickey Mouse, Doraemon, and Sonic the Hedgehog. 

Mr. DOB has become one the most enduring mascots for the artist, evolving across his oeuvre into a myriad of forms, ranging from paintings and merchandises, to sculptures and installations. Mr. DOB’s flashing toothy grins and winking eyes give an universal appeal to the iconic character, and make it a morphing alter ego of the artist.

Lot 81 | Stephen Wong Chun Hei | Tai Tung Shan (From Pak Kung Au to Mui Wo Pier), Oil on canvas (diptych) (Auction record for the artist)
Created in 2018
Each: 200 x 150 cm; Overall: 200 x 300 cm

  • Gallery Exit, Hong Kong
  • Acquired at the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$150,000 - 250,000
Hammer Price: HK$850,000
Sold: HK$1,071,000 (around US$141,000)

Making his auction debut, Hong Kong artist Stephen Wong Chun Hei sparked outsize interest in the sale with a vivid, delicate landscape depicting Tai Tung Shan, the third-highest peak in Hong Kong.

Opening on a bid of HK$200,000, his work elicited enthusiastic biddings from both floor and telephone bidders. The intense demand had swiftly driven the bid up to the hammer price of HK$850,000. After fees, it sold for HK$1.1 million (around US$141,000) to the buyer with paddle number 8316, represented by Evelyn Lin, Co-Head of the 20th and 21st Century Art Department, Christie's Asia Pacific.

Stephen Wong Chun Hei

Hailed as a 'Hong Kong David Hockney', Wong is known for his landscape paintings with meticulous compositions and vibrant colour palette. 

Wong graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008. An avid hiker, he would sketch the picturesque scenery of Hong Kong's landmark hiking trail en route and subsequently re-envision them on canvas, resulting in works which are familiar yet dazzlingly strange.

Auction Details:

Auction House: Christie's Hong Kong
Sale: Post-Millennium Evening Sale
Date: 30 November 2022
Number of Lots: 17
Sold: 16
Unsold: 1
Sale Rate: 94.1%
Sale Total: HK$139,629,000 (around US$17.9 million)