Phillips Hong Kong Adopts Innovative Strategy for 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

For 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sales, two leading auction houses have opted for big names by offering highly sought-after artworks that worth up to HK$10m to 100m or even higher. To increase its presence in the Asian market, instead of going big, Phillips Hong Kong decided to go bold.

Henry Highley, auctioneer of the sale

Phillips is a British auction house with a history of over 200 years. It takes pride in not only its long history but also its forward-looking attitude. It adopted an innovative strategy of offering unique and relatively affordable works from international artists for its 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale in Hong Kong.

The sale offered Universe of Water Particles by teamLab, an art collaborative group that brings together professionals from various fields to create digital art installations.  It was the first time a digital work by the artist collective offered at auction.

Universe of Water Particles carried an estimate of HK$650,000 – 950,000. Offered an opening bid of HK$400,000, the work was hammered down at HK$1.5m and sold for HK$1.87m with buyer’s premium. This encouraging result may pave the way for more artworks from teamLab to go on auctions in the future and Phillips will be remembered as the pioneer selling the first teamLab artwork ever auctioned.

To feed the Asian appetite, Phillips also offered a special work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the highest-grossing American artist at auction. It was a paper work titled Hong Kong, created by the artist in 1985 following his trip to the city in April of the same year.

Asian collectors were enthralled by the subject matter of the artwork. The paper work was hammered down at HK$3.5m and sold for HK$4.3m with buyer’s premium.

The focal point of the sale was George Condo’s Young Girl with Blue Dress, featured on the cover of the catalogue.  At first glance, the painting showed traits of Cubism resembling paintings from Pablo Picasso.

George Condo

Condo has described his depictions of grinning, demented, delirious subjects as ‘psychological cubism’, often featuring an expression that ‘goes between a scream and a smile.’

Condo gained his incredibly wide visual erudition, by his immersion in European culture, evident in Young Girl with Blue Dress, which has echoes of folk art and old portraits, while also referencing—and mocking—Pablo Picasso’s Cubism in the forms of the face and the faceted upper torso.

Started at HK$3m, the bidding soon escalated into a bidding battle. After 17 bid increments, the painting was hammered down at HK$10m, surpassing its estimate of HK$3m-5m. The painting was sold for HK$12.1m to a private Asian collector represented by Cindy Yen, Senior Specialist, Watches & Jewellery, Taiwan.


Sale Results of Highlighted Items

George Condo. Young Girl with Blue Dress.

Lot no.: 10
Created in: 2007
Size: 127 x 106.5cm
Signed and dated ‘Condo 07’ on the reverse

  • Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich
  • Christie's, London, 15 October 2011, Lot 256

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Estimate: HK$3,000,000  5,000,000
Hammer price: HK$10,000,000
Price realized: HK$12,100,000

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Hong Kong.

Lot no.: 11
Created in: 1985
Size: 76.2 x 57cm
Signed and dated 'Jean-Michel Basquiat 85' on the reverse

  • Akira Ikeda Gallery, Tokyo
  • Private Collection
  • Christie's, New York, 18 May 2001, Lot 502
  • Private Collection
  • Christie's, New York, 11 November 2010, Lot 343
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: HK$3,900,000 - 5,500,000
Hammer price: HK$3,500,000
Price realized: HK$4,300,000

Yoshitomo Nara. The Little Pilgrim (Night Walking).

Lot no.: 5
Created in: 1999
Size: 70 x 45 x 44cm

  • Blum & Poe Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$1,200,000 - 2,200,000
Hammer price: HK$2,800,000
Price realized: HK$3,460,000

Yayoi Kusama. Abode of Heart.

Lot no.: 26
Created in: 2012
Size: 100 x 130 x 70cm
Signed, titled and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 2012 "ABODE OF HEART"' on the reverse of the right leg

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

Estimate: HK$2,800,000 - 3,800,000
Hammer price: HK$2,800,000
Price realized: HK$3,460,000

teamLab. Universe of Water Particles.

Lot no.: 34
Created in: 2013
Pixel: 1920 x 5400
Size: 345 x 122cm on 5 display monitors
Ikkan Art Gallery, Singapore
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Note: Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by teamLab, and an extendable 10-year warranty issued by teamLab from the date of auction.
Estimate: HK$650,000 - 950,000
Hammer price: HK$1,500,000
Price realized: HK$1,875,000

Auction Summary
Auction house: Phillips Hong Kong
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design
Date: 2017/11/26
Sale total: HK$119,840,000 (US$15,351,504)
No. of lots: 71
Sold: 64
Unsold: 7
Sell-through rate: 90%
Average price per lot: HK$1,872,500