Sotheby’s to Present Zao Wou-Ki’s Untitled from the Guggenheim Collection

Last autumn, Juin-Octobre 1985, the largest-ever painting by abstract artist Zao Wou-Ki, was sold for a whopping HK$510m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. This spring season, the auction house is going to present another masterpiece by Zao Wou-Ki from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, estimated at HK$60m-80m (US$7.7m-10m).

Zao Wou-Ki was an internationally renowned abstract master

Zao Wou-Ki|Untitled (1958)

Measuring 118.1 cm x 166.4 cm, Untitled was created by Zao Wou-Ki in 1958 during his ‘Oracle Bone’ period. The modest use of colours resembles the thousand-year-old bronzeware that withstands the test of time. Evolving from indecipherable ancient Chinese characters, the sharp and distinct brushstrokes became abstract motifs that emanated a strong presence of classical Eastern aesthetics.

The painting was initially presented by the Kootz Gallery (1945-1966), founded by New York art dealer Samuel M. Kootz. The gallery played a critical role in showcasing the finest contemporary American art of mid-century alongside older Modern "masters" like Léger and Picasso.

Samuel M. Kootz

The then President Roosevelt (second from the left) and Samuel I. Rosenman (third one from the right)

The collection was acquired by Samuel I. Rosenman (1896-1973), the first White House Counsel. He was a senior advisor and speechwriter to presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Samuel I. Rosenman donated Untitled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1964. The painting has been kept in the collection of the museum for more than six decades after its creation. It will make its auction debut, carrying an estimate at HK$60m-80m (US$7.7m-10m).

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


Juin-Octobre 1985|HK$510,371,000

Zao Wou-Ki is a Franco-Chinese artist known for his non-representational paintings that blended Eastern and Western modes of art making. Zao’s works have been highly sought after in the market in recent years. In 2017, two of his paintings were sold for record-setting prices at Christie’s Hong Kong for HK$152m and HK$202m, exemplifying the market frenzy for his works.

Last September, Juin-Octobre 1985, the largest painting by Zao Wou-Ki was sold for HK$510m at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, setting a new auction record for the most valuable painting sold at Hong Kong auctions.

With its distinguished provenance and impeccable quality from the artist’s critical “Oracle Bone” period, Untitled (1958) will no doubt generate interest and excitement from collectors worldwide.

Zao Wou-Ki (1921-2013). Untitled

Created in: 1958
Size: 118.1 x 166.4cm

  • The Kootz Gallery, New York
  • Samuel I. Rosenman
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Estimate: HK$60,000,000 - 80,000,000

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong

  • New York|5-10 February 2019
  • Taipei|16-17 March 2019
  • Hong Kong|29-31 March 2019

Auction date: 31 March 2019