Sotheby’s Postpones New York Asia Week Over Coronavirus Outbreak and Continues With Hong Kong April Sales as Scheduled

In response to the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus, various major arts events scheduled to be held this March in Hong Kong are cancelled, including this year’s Art Basel and Art Central. Auction house Christie’s also decided to postpone the spring sales in both Hong Kong and New York from March to May/June. Its main rival, Sotheby’s, has just announced that the New York Asia Week will be postponed to June while the Hong Kong spring auction this April will remain as planned.

Sotheby's Hong Kong spring auction will take place in April as planned

Six sales were scheduled to be held between 16-21 March during Sotheby’s Asia Week Spring 2020, including Kangxi Porcelain – A Private Collection; Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings; Important Chinese Art; Indian, Himalayan, Southeast Asian Works of Art; Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art; The Hundred Antiques: Fine and Decorative Asian Art. While Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art will remain as scheduled on 16 March, other sales will move to June. New arrangements as below:

Here are some top lots from highlighted sales:

Kangxi Porcelain – A Private Collection
A celadon-glazed ‘dragon’ amphora vase (right), Kangxi mark and period, est: US$300,000-500,000

Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings
A rare celadon and russet jade horse head (centre), Han-Six Dynasties, est: US$600,000-800,000
A large celadon and russet jade ‘boy and buffalo’ group (right), Ming dynasty, est: US$100,000-150,000

Regarding Sotheby’s 2020 sales series in Hong Kong, the auction house said on the statement that they 'will continue to monitor the situation closely, including travel restrictions and recommendations from government agencies, there are no plans to change the April sale schedule at this time.'

Sotheby’s spring sales usually take place in late March to early April, shortly after Art Basel Hong Kong. This year, Art Basel was scheduled to held on 17-21 March and there are 2 weeks in between before Sotheby’s spring sales start on 3 April. Hence, the auction house presented an additional viewing exhibition on 17-18 March to attract Art Basel’s crowd going for the VIP viewings. Sotheby's viewing exhibition, planned to be held at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, next to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where Art Basel takes place every year, is now relocated to Sotheby’s Gallery. The exact dates of the viewing to be announced.

David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers

Sanyu’s Quatre nus

The Hong Kong spring sales will take place on 3-8 April with a wide range of amazing artworks on offer. Highlights include:

1. David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers (1996). 182.9 x 182.9cm, estimated to fetch in the region of HK$80m (US$10.3m)
2. Sanyu’s Quatre nus (1950). 100 x 122cm. Estimate upon request
3. Yoshitomo Nara’s Keep Your Chin Up (2001). 194 x 259.3cm. Estimate: HK$18m-28m (US$2.3m-3.6m)

The auction house is still closely monitoring the situation and see how it goes in this critical period before its April sales. If the widespread coronavirus outbreak gets worse, it is very likely to bring a huge impact to the sale performances.

Now Art Basel 2020 is cancelled, for collectors, art dealers or investors intended to spend their money at the fair may now shift their focus to the April sales. Would it help the auction house to attract more buyers? We will have to wait and see how the market reacts. Please stay tuned for updates.