6 Artworks Sold for above US$1.28m at Poly Auction HK's Modern and Contemporary Art

To celebrate its fifth anniversary, Poly Auction Hong Kong presented a special sale of Yongle Imperial Buddhist Sculptures, which took the collection world by storm. Alongside with the above buzz-creating sale, Poly Auction Hong Kong also stepped up its game on modern and contemporary art sale. It recorded satisfactory sale results, which include six lots being sold for more than HK$10m/US$1.28m respectively. The leading lot, Zao Wou-ki’s 24.03.59-31.12.59, was hammered down at HK$52m and sold for HK$61.3m (US$7.85m) with buyer’s premium.

Zao Wou-Ki often spoke of the pursuit of light and space in his paintings. He once said, "Light is in fact colour. Look at the paintings of Bonnard, and you'll see exactly that colour is light. Light-this doesn't mean that whatever comes from an outside source we can call light. Light is the feeling of colour—it is the pulsing and vibrating of colour." This idea is perfectly embodied in Zao Wou-Ki's 24.03.59-31.12.59.

Zao's colour palette at first seems simple and pure, with brushstrokes in bright white, bone white, light brown and black weaving together along a central axis, their mutual highlighting and contrasts suggesting reflected, refracted light. 24.03.59-31.12.59 is estimated at HK$40m-60m (US$5.12m-7.68m). The opening bid was HK$35m and quickly jumped to HK$50m. The painting was hammered down at HK$52m and sold to a gentleman at the back of the room for HK$61.3m (US$7.85m) with buyer’s premium.

The lot with the second best result was The Great Fall of Tanzania by Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010), marked estimate upon request. Wu created this painting upon government invitation to participate in a diplomatic mission. The appearance of the painting lit up the bidding atmosphere. The bidding started at HK$26m and attracted both bidders in the room and telephone bidders fighting over it. The price soon rose to HK$40m and the bidding pace slowed down a little bit after that. The auctioneer then lowered the bid increment from HK$1m to HK$500,000. The painting was hammered down at HK$45.5m and sold for HK$53.6m(US$6.87m) with buyer’s premium.

The Great Fall of Tanzania was created in 1975, a time when China was assisting with the construction of a railway from Tanzania to Zambia. Two carriages were to be state gifts, one each for the respective presidents of those two nations, to serve as their official railway carriages. The officials responsible for producing railway carriages invited Wu Guanzhong to Qingdao to create two oil paintings, one of the snows on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and one of the Victoria Falls in Zambia, which would serve as blueprints for the tapestries. The Great Fall of Tanzania is one of the two oil paintings.

The third one was Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)’s Untitled, estimated at HK$30m-50m (US$3.84m-6.4m). Started at the opening bid of HK$26m, the bidding ended at HK$38m, the hammer price. The painting was sold for HK$44.2m (US$5.66m) with buyer’s premium.

Early In May this year, another Untitled created by Basquiat was sold at Sotheby’s New York for US$110m, the most ever paid at auction for an American artist's work. His works have become highly-sought after items at auctions, making Basquiat almost a guarantee of high-selling prices.


Paintings sold for prices above HK$10m/US$1.28m

ZAO WOU-KI (1920-2013)
24.03.59-31.12.59. OIL ON CANVAS

Lot no.: 181
Created in: 1959
Size: 162.3 x 99.5cm
Sign: Signed in Chinese; signed ‘ZAO’ (lower right); signed and titled ‘ZAO WOU-KI 24.3.59 31.12.59’ (on the reverse)

  • Galerie de France, Paris, France
  • Private Collection, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Private Collection, Switzerland
  • Private Collection, Brussels, Belgium
  • Private Collection, Europe

Remarks: This work is to be sold with a certificate of authenticity issued by the artist’s studio.
Estimate: HK$40,000,000 - 60,000,000 (US$5,120,000 - 7,680,000)
Hammer price: HK$52,000,000
Price realized: HK$61,360,000 (US$7,854,080)

WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)

Lot no.: 177
Created in: 1975
Size: 100.3 x 179.6cm
Sign: Signed in Chinese; dated '75' (lower left); signed and inscribed in Chinese (on the reverse)
Estimate upon request
Hammer price: HK$45,500,000
Price realized: HK$53,690,000 (US$6,872,320)


Lot no.: 187
Created in: 1984
Size: 183 x 122cm
Provenance (consolidated by The Value):

  • Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA / Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Private Collection
  • Sotheby’s London, 22 June 2007, Lot 343
  • Christie’s London,18 October 2013, Lot 29
  • Duhamel Fine Art, Paris, France
  • Private Collection, Europe

Estimate: HK$30,000,000 - 50,000,000 (US$3,840,000 - 6,400,000)
Hammer price: HK$38,000,000
Price realized: HK$44,250,000 (US$5,664,000)

WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)

Lot no.: 179
Created in: 1991
Size: 44 x 53cm
Sign: Dated and signed in Chinese (lower right)
Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 25,000,000 (US$1,920,000 - 3,200,000)
Hammer price: HK$15,000,000
Price realized: HK$17,700,000 (US$2,265,600)


Lot no.: 190
Created in: 2011
Size: 175 x 180 x 190cm
Sign: Signed and dated ‘YAYOI KUSAMA 2011' (on the side)
Estimate: HK$9,000,000 - 15,000,000 (US$1,152,000 - 1,920,000)
Hammer price: HK$11,500,000
Price realized: HK$13,570,000 (US$1,736,960)

WU GUANZHONG (1919-2010)

Lot no.: 176
Created in: 1998
Size: 92.3 x 60.1cm
Sign: Signed and dated in Chinese (lower middle); signed and titled in Chinese; dated ‘1998’ (on the reverse)
Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000
Hammer price: HK$11,000,000
Price realized: HK$12,980,000

Auction Summary

Auction house: Poly Auction Hong Kong
Sale: Modern and Contemporary Art
Sale date: 2017/10/2
No. of lots: 125
Sold: 94
Unsold: 31
Sell-through rate: 75%
(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless otherwise specified)