Sotheby’s Hong Kong just wrapped up tonight’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which amassed nearly HK$944m (US$121.5m) and it was a white-glove sale - with all 45 lots sold successfully.
The sale’s success definitely had Clyfford Still’s abstract painting to thank, which was sold for HK$126m (US$16.2m) after fees, yet the evening concluded with an exciting announcement that a collaboration between Asian superstar Jay Chou and Sotheby's is to be expected in June.
Sotheby’s immediately released a 37-second teaser on its Instagram after the sale, though not many hints were dropped.
Dubbed as the “King of Mandopop,” the 42-year-old 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.
His wife, model-actress Hannah Quinlivan also worked with Orlando Bloom in the movie Smart Chase: Fire & Earth as well as “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson in Skyscraper.
(From right) Jay Chou, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson, and Chou’s wife Hannah Quinlivan at a premiere event for the movie Skyscraper in Beijing, 2018
Before more details about the sale will be released, from Chou’s Instagram, which attracted some 6.3 million followers, we might be able to make some guesses on what might be on offer:
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1860-1988)
Jay Chou’s first Instagram post, featuring a Basquiat painting
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.
Basquiat’s Untitled (Orange Sports Figure), sold for HK$73.2m (US$9.4m) at Christie’s Hong Kong, May 2018
Jean-Michel Basquiat was first known for his spray painted crowns and scribbles in the streets of New York. He was a subversive graffiti artist and street poet, until he rose to stardom in the 1980s. The artist died of a drug overdose at his studio, at the age of 27.
An untitled work by the artist appeared at a Sotheby’s New York sale and was sold to Japanese mega collector Yusaku Maezawa, for a record-breaking US$110.5m and crowned Basquiat as the most valuable American artist.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who acquired the 1982 painting of a skull for US$110.5m
Basquiat’s Warrior fetched HK$323.6m (US$41.7m) at Christie’s Hong Kong last month, standing as the most expensive Western artwork publicly sold in Asia
Last month, Basquiat’s headline-grabbing work titled Warrior achieved HK$323.6m (US$41.7m) at a Christie’s Hong Kong sale and reset the record as the most expensive Western artwork auctioned off in Asia.
From enormous inflatables that take social media by storm, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the US, to limited-edition collectibles that command high prices at auctions, American graffiti artist and designer KAWS - whose real name is Brian Donnelly, stands at the forefront of the contemporary art world.
Again and Again, KAWS’ take on the widely recognizable face of SpongeBob elicited a bidding frenzy in the saleroom of Sotheby’s London in 2018 and set a record price for the artist at the time.
Just as the art market wondered which ardent fan became the new owner of the US$1.3m art piece, Chou shared a photo with the phenomenal acrylic hung on the wall of what appears to be his mother’s bedroom.
Chou's mother in front of a KAWS painting
A birthday cake made by Chou’s wife Hannah Quinlivan (right), based on KAWS’ Companion
KAWS (left) and Jay Chou (right)
KAWS, THE KAWS ALBUM
Highly sought after by Asian collectors, KAWS’ painting THE KAWS ALBUM, was sold for HK$116m (US$14.8m) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale, which amassed collections curated by NIGO - founder of Japanese clothing brand A Bathing Ape and collector.
Gerhard Richter (b.1932)
Chou’s curation is not only limited to pop culture icons; it includes German abstract painting Gerhard Richter, whose work appears in one of his music videos “If You Don’t Love Me, It’s Fine,” which boasts over 49 million views on YouTube.
Screenshot of Chou's music video, with Richter's painting in the background
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (649-2), sold for a record-breaking HK$214.6m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2020
Richter is known for his “squeegee” technique, in which he would rub and scrape across wet paint to relinquish any intended compositional elements laid down on a canvas, revealing the paint-stained preparatory layer underneath.
Vincent Fang (b.1969)
Vincent Fang, and his artwork Juhua Tai (Chrysanthemum Terrace)
Vincent Fang, Taiwanese award-winning lyricist, is seen as Chou’s sidekick. His collaborations with Chou often gain widespread popularity and some would even go so far as to say that Fang’s lyrics are the soul to Chou’s songs. Their chart-topping productions are often rooted in the rich tradition of Chinese literature, while giving classical language a modern twist.
The renowned lyricist’s poetic language is seen in his artworks - two of which were sold last December at Bonhams, for HK$315,000 (US$40,500) and HK$152,500 (US$19,600) respectively.
The glassy transparent plaque is carved with Fang’s lyrics for Chou’s song Juhua Tai (Chrysanthemum Terrace). Inspired by the tablature for guqin, one of the earliest stringed musical instruments in China, the artwork is where elements of Mandopop and classical music meet.
Vincent Fang, Dongfeng Po (East Wind Breaks)
Another installation work is a novel visual interpretation that fuses the poetic vibes between a renowned calligrapher and a Northern Song dynasty (907-1127) Chinese scroll that now resides in the Palace Museum of Beijing.
Wang Ximeng (1096-1119) | A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains
51 x 1191.5 cm | Collection of the Palace Museum of Beijing
Jacky Tsai (b.1984)
The creative brain behind the now iconic floral skull emblem for British fashion house Alexander McQueen, the London-based Chinese artist rose to fame in 2008.
One of his many artworks, titled Parody of Jay’s Music was commissioned by Chou, to showcase his music career that spans more than two decades, through pop and collage - his creative vigor to spin classic elements.
Jacky Tsai and his 2019 work, Parody of Jay’s Music
It took the artist a year to complete the eight-meter long painting, which comes to life with augmented reality (AR), when viewers point their devices to the artwork.
Closeups of Parody of Jay’s Music, where different looks portrayed by Chou’s music videos are reinterpreted
Other prominent names favored by Chou also include contemporary American artist George Condo, stalwarts of the Pop art movement David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, contemporary Scottish painter Peter Doig, among other luxury collections such as timepieces and sports cars.
Sotheby’s had seen similar forays with popular icons such as Japanese progenitor of street culture NIGO and rapper of famous Korean boy band Big Bang, T.O.P, in 2014 and 2019.
Both collaborations were spearheaded by Yuki Terase, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Asia, who worked for Morgan Stanley as a member of its Mergers and Acquisitions advisory team in Tokyo, prior to her role as a rainmaker of the modern art scene in Asia.
Yuki Terase, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Art, Asia
With Terase once again at the helm, the upcoming collaboration between Jay Chou and Sotheby’s seems to be a winning formula.
Sotheby’s 2014 collaboration with T.O.P
Sotheby’s collaboration with NIGO in 2014 and 2019