Last month, Sotheby’s Hong Kong announced its collaboration with renowned Taiwanese singer-songwriter, also dubbed as the “King of Mandopop,” Jay Chou. The auction house has finally revealed the long-awaited lineup curated by the Asian superstar. The sale series will be spearheaded by Basquiat’s triptych, estimated in excess of HK$255m (US$33m), in the hopes of breaking the artist’s auction record in Asia.
The collaboration will mark the grand inaugural edition of Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” auction series in Asia. The artworks on offer will be displayed in a public exhibition in Hong Kong, running from June 12 to 18, before going under the hammer live in the evening on June 18, and online from June 10 to 22.
Taiwan-born superstar Jay Chou at “The Invincible” concert. Three sets of his concert costumes will also be sold in the sale to benefit charity.
The highly anticipated sale will be led by one of Chou’s favorite artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat, alongside sensational names that the 42-year-old singer and avid art collector has selected and curated - many of which have been featured in his music videos as well as on his Instagram with over 6.4 million followers. Chou is also known for his ability to meld elements of art and poetry with his songs.
Jay Chou sitting in front of Basquiat’s Untitled (Orange Sports Figure), sold for HK$73.2m (US$9.4m) at Christie’s Hong Kong, May 2018
Jean-Michel Basquiat | Untitled
Painted in 1985
Acrylic and oilstick on wood, in three parts
Dimensions: 217.2 x 275.6 x 30.5 cm
Estimate: HK$255,000,000 - 350,000,000 (US$32,850,000 - 45,090,000)
The repeated appearance of Basquiat’s works on Chou’s social media indicates just how much the Asian megastar loves the artist’s works.
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.
Basquiat with the present lot, featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, February 1985 issue
In triptych format, the present painting was executed in 1985 and draws on the visual vocabulary of African masks and the Jaguar - an important Aztec warrior symbol, together with a figure that resembles Don Quixote - Miguel Cervantes’ farcical knight errant. The ferocity of African and Mesoamerican visual cultures is juxtaposed with Basquiat’s iconic black warrior.
Closer look at the iconic black warrior
The Jaguar, an Aztec warrior symbol
A figure resembling Don Quixote, Miguel Cervantes’ farcical knight errant
Also on view in K11 ATELIER and K11 MUSEA Hong Kong in the dedicated exhibition are the original chairs featured on the magazine cover, from Basquiat’s studio where the photo was shot.
The artworks he left behind since his passing in 1988, at the age of 27, often command high prices at auction. He is also the highest-grossing American artist. His 1982 painting, Warrior, fetched a whopping HK$323.6m (US$41.7m) two months ago, and is Asia’s auction record for the most valuable Western artwork. If the present work is hammered within-estimate, it is likely to reset the record for the artist.
Pablo Picasso | Buste d’Homme
Painted in 1969
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 116 x 89 cm
Estimate: HK$93,000,000 - 143,000,000 (US$11,980,000 - 18,420,000)
The cross-category sale format emerged from the pandemic has already become the new normal in the industry. While the spotlight of the upcoming collaborative sale is on contemporary art pieces, such renowned modern artists as Picasso and “Chinese Matisse” Zao Wou-ki are also on the list too.
Works by Picasso are often seen at New York and London salerooms, yet when Sotheby’s presented his matador painting at last month’s cross-category auction, it was sold for HK$140m (US$18m) to become his auction record in Asia.
Pablo Picasso’s Buste de matador (1970), sold for HK$140m (US$18m) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 2021
Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Executed in 1969, Buste d’Homme is Picasso's late-era tribute to yet another world-renowned artist Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat from 1887. Picasso combines the tribute with the musketeer, his alter-ego, recognized from the playful half moustache.
The present work is estimated at HK$93m to HK$143m (US$12m - US$18.4m) and is hopeful to once again renew the record for the artist.
Zao Wou-ki | 14.05.63
Painted in 1963
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 100 x 80.5 cm
Estimate: HK$30,000,000 - 50,000,000 (US$3,870,000 - 6,450,000)
The present abstract painting by Zao Wou-ki was painted during his "Hurricane Period" in the 1960s, the apex of his career. In reference to the wild, flowing style of cursive calligraphy, the vigorous brush strokes that run across the canvas of 14.05.63 compose a symphony between line and form, light and contour to manifest a majestic aura echoing the natural rhythms of the universe.
Richard Prince | Runaway Nurse
Executed in 2005-2006
Inkjet and acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 280 x 168 cm
Estimate: HK$75,000,000 - 95,000,000 (US$9,670,000 - 12,240000)
Works by one of the most controversial artists Richard Prince will also be presented in the sale. The painter and photographer allegedly sold enlarged screenshots of Instagram-sourced pictures without permission of the original photographers. Despite the wave of copyright infringement suits, the series, titled New Portraits, continued to sell.
He is also known for his Nurse Paintings series, which inspired Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2008 fashion show, when the models were sent down the runway in white uniforms and lace face masks.
Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2008 runway, inspired by Prince’s Nurse Paintings series
Cover of "Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye" by Horace McCoy
Coming on to the auction block this time is Prince’s tribute to two vintage novels: the 1948 film noir crime novel “Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye,” and the 1964 dime-store novel “Runaway Nurse.” The artwork challenges traditional gender constructs while embodying Prince’s complex conceptual project.
The present work Runaway Nurse is also the artist’s auction record, set at a Christie's New York sale in 2016, which was sold for US$9.7m, with that same amount being the low estimate this time at Sotheby’s, the record is likely to be renewed.
Frank Stella | Untitled (Double Concentric Square)
Painted in 1978
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 205.5 x 408.5 cm
Estimate: HK$32,000,000 - 48,000,000 (US$4,130,000 - 6,190,000)
Known for his use of electric hues and vibrant orchestration of color harmonies, Frank Stella embraces the 20th-century minimalism in the present work, Untitled (Double Concentric Square). Another work by Stella featuring a forest green and black palette was also featured in one of Jay Chou’s music videos “If You Don’t Love Me, It’s Fine,” which boasts over 49 million views on YouTube.
Stella’s artwork in the background of “If You Don’t Love Me, It’s Fine” music video
Screen capture from Jay Chou’s Instagram
Some other highlights from the sale include:
Andy Warhol | Campbell's Soup I (set of 10)
Executed in 1968
Screenprint on paper
Dimensions: 88.9 x 58.4 cm
Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000 (US$520,000 - 775,000)
Banksy | Laugh Now But One Day We'll Be in Charge
Painted in 2000
Acrylic and stencil spray paint on canvas,
Dimensions: 61 x 61 cm
Estimate: HK$6,200,000 - 9,300,000 (US$800,000 - 1,200,000)
Jia Aili | The Memory of North Liucao Island
Painted in 2013-2014
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 220 x 180 cm
Estimate: HK$7,000,000 - 10,000,000 (US$905,000 - 1,290,000)
Loie Hollowell | Linked Lingams (yellow, green, blue, purple, pink)
Executed in 2018
Oil paint, acrylic medium, sawdust, and high-density foam on linen mounted on panel
Dimensions: 122 x 91.5 x 9.3 cm
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000 (US$387,000 - 645,000)
Yukimasa Ida | King of Rock
Painted in 2021
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 194 x 162 cm
Estimate: HK$500,000 - 800,000 (US$64,500 - 104,000)
Dates: June 12 - 18, 2021
Venue: K11 ATELIER and K11 MUSEA, Hong Kong
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Session I: June 18, 2021 (Live auction)
Venue: 5/F Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, One Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Session II: June 10 - 22, 2021 (Online auction)