It Wasn’t Simply KAWS. Right here Are Three Tendencies That Present the Hong Kong Public sale Market Is Booming for Worldwide Artwork

It Wasn't Just KAWS. Here Are 3 Trends That Show the Hong Kong Auction Market Is Booming for International Art

Like an enormous Companion balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the mind-boggling $14.eight million paid for a KAWS portray in Hong Kong earlier this month upstaged each different consequence from Sotheby’s latest sequence of gross sales within the metropolis. But it surely seems a welter of different head-turning market exercise passed off within the shadow of that hulking determine.

Sotheby’s gross sales—held concurrently a buoyant, if uneven, Artwork Basel Hong Kong—exceeded expectations, surpassing the excessive estimate of $428 million to generate $482 million, the second-highest complete within the firm’s historical past within the metropolis. (All totals embrace premiums until in any other case famous.)

However choose huge numbers solely inform us a lot. To place these outcomes into context, we dove into the info to find out how the market in Hong Kong has advanced over the previous decade—and the place it’s headed subsequent.

Our findings recommend that town, which serves as a hub for collectors throughout Asia, is effectively on its solution to changing into a mature, international market. And whereas work by Asian artists nonetheless dramatically outperforms that by Western artists, the latter is gaining severe momentum.

Beneath, a more in-depth have a look at our three huge takeaways.


1. The Artwork Market in Hong Kong Is Larger Than Ever.

© artnet Price Database 2019.

© artnet Value Database 2019.

You don’t must be a statistician to acknowledge that this tally of fine-art gross sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Hong Kong within the opening months of 2009 by means of 2019 exhibits a market on the rise. The previous two years have seen an infinite improve in gross sales within the area.

This yr hit a brand new excessive mark with a complete of $313.9 million price of public sale gross sales in Hong Kong since January 1, a 33 % improve from the $236 million offered within the first three and a half months of 2018. Each this yr and final yr’s totals handily surpassed the earlier excessive mark in 2011, when complete gross sales hit $216.four million.

However whereas the 2011 complete was boosted by large progress within the mainland Chinese language financial system on the time—and purchases by speculators who had been driving that wave—the newer outcomes have gone in opposition to the financial tide. Final yr, the Chinese language financial system skilled slower progress than it has at any level previously 28 years. However you wouldn’t realize it from the latest exercise within the public sale room.


2. The Marketplace for Western Artwork Gained’t Eclipse the Marketplace for Asian Artwork in Hong Kong Anytime Quickly.

© artnet Price Database 2019.

© artnet Value Database 2019.

Resulting from an exodus of speculators and the rise of a youthful, extra internationally targeted collector base, the latest report on the state of the Chinese language artwork market from the European Superb Artwork Basis advised that storm clouds are gathering over Asian artists there. The concern was that new consumers’ want for model names and the latest inflow of Western blue-chip galleries would possibly cannibalize the enterprise each of Asian sellers and public sale homes providing work by Asian artists.

Whereas that would nonetheless be a priority long-term, the most recent outcomes present it’s actually not occurring but. Asian and non-Asian artists alike posted their finest years ever at public sale in 2019. However Asian artists nonetheless drastically outsold Westerners, when it comes to each complete gross sales worth ($249 million vs. $65 million) and quantity of works offered (756 heaps offered vs. 152 heaps offered).

© artnet Price Database 2019.

© artnet Value Database 2019.

The latest spate of gross sales in Hong Kong additionally noticed the continued robust efficiency of brand-name Asian artists, akin to Zao Wou-Ki, whose Untitled (1958), deaccessioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, offered for $14.eight million, effectively above its $10 million excessive estimate.

“There may be rising curiosity in Western artwork, however it’s not a matter of compressing individuals out—it’s a matter of the market increasing,” Angela Jaeyoung Chun of Arario Gallery informed artnet Information throughout Artwork Basel Hong Kong.


3. You May Need to Take into account Consigning Western Artwork to Hong Kong.

© artnet Price Database 2019.

© artnet Value Database 2019.

Although Asian artwork nonetheless vastly outperforms Western artwork at public sale in Hong Kong general, there are a couple of indicators that promoting work there by non-Asian artists—whether it is chosen rigorously and has worldwide enchantment—could be an more and more savvy transfer.

The most important indicator is that this: With regards to the typical value per lot, Western artists have now trounced their Asian counterparts for the third consecutive yr. Thus far in 2019, the typical work by a non-Asian artist has offered for $425,453 in Hong Kong, whereas the typical work by an Asian artist generated about 25 % much less money, at solely $329,721. 

Gross sales quantity paints an analogous image as gross sales worth too. The variety of heaps by Asian artists that discovered consumers in Hong Kong has decreased for the second yr in a row, that means that costs should proceed to rise to gasoline the dramatic improve in complete gross sales. (We’ve seen an analogous dynamic in the worldwide artwork market writ massive, the place provide is lowering however complete gross sales are rising.)

The variety of works offered by Western artists, then again, hit an all-time excessive in 2019, greater than doubling the 2018 complete. So whereas the provision of all nice artworks could also be shrinking at public sale homes worldwide, provide of works by Western artists is rising in Hong Kong’s two largest salesrooms.

The salesroom at Sotheby's Hong Kong during its slate of spring 2019 auctions. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

The salesroom at Sotheby’s Hong Kong throughout its slate of spring 2019 auctions. Picture courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Notably, one blue-chip Western artist who has acquired some however not a lot publicity in Asia—Julie Mehretu—noticed a brand new public sale report set for her work final week at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The portray Black Floor (Deep Gentle) (2006) greater than doubled its excessive estimate to generate $5.6 million.

In fact, we don’t know whether or not the customer was Asian—however the consequence means that Hong Kong gross sales have gotten locations for work by up to date Western artists that just some years in the past would have gone into night gross sales in London or New York as an alternative, despite the fact that they’d have had a higher likelihood of being drowned out in these extra conventional markets.

Specialists be aware there’s nonetheless a methods to go to domesticate a booming but sustainable marketplace for Western artwork in Asia. The vendor Brett Gorvy of Lévy Gorvy informed artnet Information, “Loads of conversations [with Chinese clients] are nonetheless targeted on, ‘Why ought to I be shopping for Western artwork?’” However the tide is shifting. “Up to now two years I’ve seen monumental progress when it comes to the quantity and spending energy of Chinese language collectors of their 20s and 30s,” he stated. And, as famous above, indications level to this youthful technology being extra open to purchasing worldwide artwork.

The upshot? Within the years forward, if the typical gross sales value for artists from each classes holds, if Asian collectors proceed to more and more look to the West, and if the provision of labor by non-Asian artists continues to develop, Westerners may start to shut the hole on their Asian counterparts within the mixture, not simply on a work-by-work foundation. No matter what occurs, although, the previous decade’s outcomes present that Hong Kong’s market is altering quick—and it’s far too essential to disregard. 


Methodology: This text examines gross sales at nice artwork auctions held between January 1 and mid-April at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Hong Kong between 2009 and 2019. For this evaluation, artists who’ve twin nationalities, one among which is Asian, had been included within the Asian class. An essential caveat: These figures replicate profitable bids, however late funds and outright defaults proceed to be main challenges for the Chinese language artwork market, so outcomes might not at all times replicate how a lot cash really modified fingers. All gross sales values are denominated in US {dollars} and embrace purchaser’s premiums. All knowledge comes courtesy of the artnet Value Database and artnet Analytics Studies.

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