Christie's HK announces collaboration with 'King of Mandopop' Jay Chou amidst the US$113m evening sales

Christie’s Hong Kong staged its highlight sales, 20/21 Century Art Evening Sale and Post-Millennium Evening Sale, on 28 May, which brought in a combined total of HK$889 million (around US$113 million).

The most surprising news of the night was perhaps the exciting announcement that a collaboration between Asian superstar Jay Chou and Christie’s is to be expected this Fall as they co-curate the Post-Millennium Evening Sale.

For now, Christie’s has only released a teaser video, with more details yet to come.

Jay Chou and Christie's Hong Kong will co-curate the upcoming Post-Millennium Evening Sale

Dubbed as the “King of Mandopop,” the Taiwanese singer-songwriter and actor, is not only sensational in the entertainment industry with 30 million records sold worldwide he is also known as an avid art collector and one of the familiar faces at art events such as Art Basel and ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.

Chou’s very first post on his Instagram account was a photo with his mother in front of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting. Various artworks by the influential African American artists are featured in Chou’s social media as well, including Untitled (Orange Sports Figure), which was sold at a 2018 Christie’s Hong Kong sale for HK$73.2m (US$9.4m) via a specialist who worked with Taiwanese clients.

The repeated appearance of Basquiat’s works on Chou’s social media indicates just how much the Asian megastar loves the artist’s works.

Jay Chou taking a photo in front of Basquiat's triptych Untitled

Chou shared on Instagram last month that he will soon be working with an auction house

Back in 2021, Chou had already co-curate a special evening sale with Sotheby’s Hong Kong. That 46-lot auction was a massive success, achieving a white-glove spearheaded by Basquiat's triptych Untitled that sold for HK$289.3 million (US$37.3 million).

Chou shared on Instagram in April of this year with the same backdrop as the painting Untitled (Orange Sports Figure). He was sitting next to the artwork and stated that promoting talented artists would be his mission. He also asked his followers to guess which auction house he would be collaborating with. And now, the answer has finally been revealed.
Coincidentally, the top lot of last night’s 20/21 Century Art Evening Sale also went to a work by Basquiat, Black (1986).

Lot 82 | Jean-Michel Basquiat | Black, Acrylic, oil, graphite, oilstick and Xerox on wood
Executed in 1986
126.4 x 92.7 x 29.2 cm
Provenance (Edited by The Value):

  • Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
  • Akira Ikeda Gallery, Nagoya (acquired from the above)
  • Acquired by the previous owner from the above in March 1996
  • Sotheby's New York, 29 October 2020, lot 18 (Sold: US$8,134,650)
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: HK$55,000,000 - 75,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$51,500,000
Sold: HK$62,600,000 (around US$8 million)

Auctioneer Adrien Meyer opened bidding for the work at HK$48 million; and after a few bids, the lot went to Jacky Ho's (Head of Evening Sale, 20th/21st Century, Christie's Asia Pacific) client on the phone with paddle number 8057, who won the work with a winning bid of HK$51.5 million.

After fees, the lot sold for HK$62.6 million (around US$8 million).

Auctioneer Adrien Meyer

Jacky Ho (middle) won the lot for his client 

Among numerous Western artists, Basquiat's works are highly sought after by Asian collectors, with his works having repeatedly crossed the HK$100 million mark at Hong Kong auctions. In 2021, Christie's Hong Kong sold his Warrior for a staggering HK$323 million, making it the most expensive Western artwork sold in Asia. 

As a Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Basquiat was highly aware of the lack of representation of African American population in art history. His works often confront the issue of inequality in society, through a burst of combative energy.

The subversive graffiti rebel began rising to stardom in the 1980s. In 1985, Basquiat even made it on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, which catapulted him to the list of famed artists at the time.  

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Black was chosen as the cover of the artist’s catalogue raisonné

Complete in 1986, Black and its sister piece Jazz were featured on the front and back covers of the artist's catalogue raisonné compiled by Enrico Navarra, a celebrated collector, dealer and scholar of Basquiat’s oeuvre.

Music was an important part of Basquiat's work, especially jazz – a music genre originating in African American culture in which black slaves expressed their resistance to white supremacy via singing.
As a black artist, Basquiat had a specific resonance with jazz music, and he strove to portray the improvisational and spontaneous features of jazz through visual art, frequently depicting his favorite jazz musicians as subjects.

In this piece, Basquiat listed several songs by Louis Armstrong and the name of the record label Columbia, paying tribute to the father of jazz.

Skull is a motif frequently employed by Basquiat

Basquiat paid tribute to Louis Armstrong through his work

In addition to jazz music, the artwork is also filled with other Basquiat's iconic symbols and motifs, such as the copyright tag, three-pointed crown, and the skull.

The copyright symbol ©️ was derived from a series of graffiti that Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz created together in his early creative years. They signed their work as SAMO©️, which stands for "Same old shit." The two started doing street graffiti in the SoHo district of Manhattan and made a name for themselves.

Christie's Hong Kong offered 91 lots across the two sales, after three lots withdrawn. 77 lots found new buyers, achieving a sell-through rate of 87.5%. 

The second and third most valuable lots of the evening belonged to works by established artists – "the most expensive living artist" Jeff Koons' Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold) sculpture, which made its auction debut; and "the Queen of Polka Dot" Yayoi Kusama's Flowers painting, repsectively. 

Indicative of Asia's rising demand for art by emerging artists, the works of Swiss painter Nicolas Party and American artist Avery Singer were also hotly pursued, both selling beyond their pre-sale estimates.

New records were set for at least five artists, including Georgette Chen, Atsushi Kaga, Hu Xiaoyuan, Cui Jie, and Dominique Fung. 

Lot 81 | Jeff Koons | Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating sculpture
Executed in 1994-2007; One of five unique versions
356.9 x 218.4 x 121 cm
Estimate: HK$50,000,000 - 70,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$50,000,000
Sold: HK$60,875,000 (around US$7.8 million)

Lot 93 | Yayoi Kusama | Flowers, Acrylic on canvas
Painted in 2015
130.3 x 97 cm

  • Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$32,000,000 - 55,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$48,000,000
Sold: HK$58,455,000 (around US$7.49 million)

Lot 54 | René Magritte | Le promenoir des amants, Oil on canvas
Painted in 1929-1930
93 x 74.3 cm

  • E.L.T. Mesens, Brussels, by whom acquired in June 1930.
  • Charley Toorop, Amsterdam, by whom acquired from the above in the early 1930s.
  • E. Van Damme-Claessens, Knokke.
  • Acquired from the above, circa 1965 and by descent; sale, Christie's London, 6 Feburary 2007, lot 121
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: HK$24,000,000 - 35,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$42,000,000
Sold: HK$51,195,000 (around US$6.56 million)

Lot 101 | Yayoi Kusama | Pumpkin, Acrylic on canvas
Created in 2000
73 x 90.8 cm

  • Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
  • Private collection, USA
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$28,000,000 - 38,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$33,000,000
Sold: HK$40,305,000 (around US$5.17 million)

Lot 20 | Nicolas Party | Still Life, Soft pastel on linen
Painted in 2015
150 x 180 cm

  • The Modern Institute, Glasgow
  • Private Collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$26,000,000 - 36,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$32,000,000
Sold: HK$39,095,000 (around US$5 million)

Lot 5 | Avery Singer | Untitled, Acrylic on canvas
Painted in 2016
203.2 x 228.6 cm

  • Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York
  • Private collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 20,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$26,000,000
Sold: HK$31,835,000 (around US$4.1 million)

Lot 57 | Georgette Chen | Still Life with Big Durian, Oil on canvas (Auction record for the artist)
Painted circa 1965
46 x 55 cm

  • Collection of the artist
  • Private collection (acquired directly from the artist)
  • Sotheby’s Singapore, 16 May 1998, lot 62
  • Private collection (acquired at the above sale by the previous owner)
  • Private collection, Asia (acquired from the above by the present owner)

Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 8,000,000
Hammer Price: HK$11,500,000
Sold: HK$14,290,000 (around US$1.8 million)

Lot 1 | Atsushi Kaga | A Breakfast in January, Acrylic on canvas (Auction record for the artist)
Painted in 2020
150 x 120 cm

  • Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$300,000 - 500,000
Hammer Price: HK$2,000,000
Sold: HK$2,520,000 (around US$323,000)

Lot 27 | Hu Xiaoyuan | Wood - Rift No. 11, Ink, paint, raw silk and iron nails on pine wood (Auction record for the artist)
Executed in 2018
200 x 170 cm

  • Pace Gallery, London
  • Private Collection, Italy
  • Acquired at the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$400,000 - 800,000
Hammer Price: HK$1,050,000
Sold: HK$1,323,000 (around US$169,000) 

Lot 25 | Cui Jie | Kunming Long-distance Telecom Hub Building, Acrylic on canvas (Auction record for the artist)
Painted in 2017
180 x 130 cm

  • Metro Pictures, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$300,000 - 500,000
Hammer Price: HK$950,000
Sold: HK$1,197,000 (around US$153,000)

Lot 2 | Dominique Fung | Jokes/ Compliments, Oil on canvas (Auction record for the artist)
Painted in 2019
152.5 x 183 cm

  • Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Private collection
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$600,000 - 1,200,000
Hammer Price: HK$600,000
Sold: HK$756,000 (around US$97,000)

Auction Details:

Auction House: Christie's Hong Kong
Date: 28 May 2023 

Sale: 20/21 Century Art Evening Sale
Number of Lots: 59
Withdrawn: 2
Sold: 48
Unsold: 9
Sale Rate: 84.2%
Sale Total: HK$725,713,800 (around US$93 million)

Sale: Post-Millennium Evening Sale
Number of Lots: 32
Withdrawn: 1
Sold: 29
Unsold: 2
Sale Rate: 93.5%
Sale Total: HK$163,453,800 (around US$21 million)