By the Numbers: A Breakdown of Results From Christie’s Hong Kong’s Post-Millennium Evening Sale, November 2023

Let the numbers tell the story.

Auctioneer Georgina Hilton selling Adrian Ghenie's Lidless Eye at the Post-Millennium Evening Sale, a Collab with Jay Chou, Christie's Hong Kong, November 28, 2023.

Are A-list celebrities and young art market stars a potent combination? The answer is an obvious yes, if the soaring auction prices for emerging names over the past few years is any indication. But whether this formula will continue to see results as the market softens is an open question.

Tuesday’s Post-Millennium Evening Sale at Christie’s Hong Kong, organized this year in collaboration with Taiwanese mega pop star Jay Chou as part of the house’s marquee autumn auction week in Asia, might offer some insights.

Chou is no stranger to the art world. The award-winning singer-songwriter is known for his passion for collecting art. He has featured works from his collection, and artists he likes, in his music videos, and he first collaborated with an auction house in 2021, for a sale at Sotheby’s.

Having a celebrity’s name attached to an auction can help drive publicity, and draw the attention of a younger collecting crowd. But the results of Tuesday (November 28) evening’s sale suggests that this effect could be starting to wear off, even in Asia, where an obsession with celebrity culture is particularly prominent. The hammer total for the Chou sale came in below the presale low estimate, although the total including fees surpassed this threshold just slightly. And works by names that have been performing well at other auctions in Asia, such as Loie Hollowell, Dana Schutz, Jadé Fadojutimi, and Jia Aili, sold below their low estimates.

Nevertheless, the sale, which debuted at Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2022, and is dedicated to younger artists and recent works, brought some surprises. Chinese artist Qiu Xiaofei’s abstract painting Zero Gravity No. 4 (2016) hammered at HK$1.8 million ($225,685), tripling the low estimate, and bringing in HK$2.2 million ($282,581) including fees. Jin Xin’s pleasant canvas work White Cat (2021) achieved a hammer price of HK$1.6 million ($206,341), five times the low estimate, making HK$2 million ($258,360) with fees. Taiwanese artist Fan Yang-Tsung’s whimsical canvas work Swimming Pool Series–Sunny Season (2014) hammered for nearly four times the low estimate and achieved a sale price at HK$478,800 ($61,360) after fees.

Ghenie Christie's HK

Adrian Ghenie, Lidless Eye (2016-2019). Photo: courtesy of Christie’s.

Below, the story by the numbers…

Post-Millennium Evening Sale, a Collab with Jay Chou

  • Total Sales After Fees: HK$118 million ($15 million)
  • Hammer Total: HK$95 million ($12.3 million)
  • Top Seller: Lot 92, Adrian Ghenie, Lidless Eye (2016-2019), hammered at HK$35 million ($4.5 million), below the presale low estimate at HK$38 million ($4.9 million). It made HK$42.7 million ($5.5 million) including fees.
  • Lots on Offer: 28
  • Lots Withdrawn: 0
  • Lots Sold: 25
  • Lots Bought In: 3
  • Sell-through Rate: 89 percent
  • Presale Low Estimate: HK$105 million ($13.5 million)
  • Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: – HK$10 million ($1.3 million)
  • Total Sales of Equivalent Sale Last Year: HK$139.6 million ($18 million), Post-Millennium Evening Sale December 1, 2022
  • Lots Guaranteed: 2
  • Lots With House Guarantees: 0
  • Lots With Third-Party Guarantees: 2
  • Total Low Estimate of Guaranteed Lots: HK$18 million ($2.3 million) (17 percent of total presale low estimate)
  • Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: HK$18 million ($2.3 million) (17 percent of total presale low estimate)
  • Quote of the Night: “Are we all done? Quite sure? No regrets? Last chance,” were the phrases auctioneer Georgina Hilton kept repeating throughout the evening while holding her gavel aloft, putting in her best effort to maintain some momentum through a slow-moving evening.
  • Lasting Memory: Even the name of a mega pop star like Jay Chou, and a promo video that featured him gracefully playing on the piano next to the works on sale, failed to bring enough magic to brighten this lackluster evening.
  • Next Sale Up: Christie’s Hong Kong’s marquee autumn auction week continues with Christie’s 20th and 21st Century Art day sales on November 29.

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