Sotheby’s Hong Kong Hopes to Nab Up to $20 Million This Month With a Rare, Wall-Mounted Louise Bourgeois Spider Sculpture

Sotheby's hopes the rare sculpture appeals to Asian collectors' growing appetite for work by Western artists.

Louise Bourgeois pictured with the steel version of Spider IV, 1996_Photo - Peter Bellamy, Artwork © 2022 The Easton Foundation, Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

A Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture with an estimated value of $15 million to $20 million will headline Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s modern and contemporary art auction later this month.

The nearly seven-foot-tall, wall-mounted Spider IV, which has an 80-inch wingspan, could become the priciest sculpture ever to be sold in Asia, and is meant to appeal to the region’s appetite for Western art, said Alex Branczik, chairman of modern and contemporary art at Sotheby’s Asia.

“The decision to offer this sculpture in Hong Kong was very deliberate,” Branczik told Artnet News. “As a selling center, Hong Kong has become a critical region to our business. Since we first started offering Western art in the region in 2017, we’ve been seeing an ever-increasing appetite for the category across the continent—not only for works by the most celebrated Western artists through history but, in particular, for their very best works.”

“This sculpture shows Louise Bourgeois at her absolute finest,” he added.

Louise Bourgeois, <i>Spider IV</i>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider IV. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

The late French-American artist (1911–2010) is no stranger to art lovers in Asia, as her work has been widely exhibited across the region: her public sculpture Maman is on view at Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills complex (where the Mori Art Museum is located), and her work has been shown at major institutions such as Shanghai’s Long Museum.

The sculpture to be sold in Hong Kong is part of an edition of five and is one of three wall-mounted works the artist made. The consignment was said to be a competition between between Sotheby’s and its arch-rival, Christie’s, Artnet News has learned.

Asia’s growing collector base comes from younger collectors and especially women, who are increasingly taking up top jobs at corporations, in government, and across cultural institutions. Their growing financial power has made them into “forces as consumers who account for many of our top clients in the region,” Branczik said.

“On average over the past five years, almost 50 percent of our female collectors buying works for over $1 million have been from Asia,” he added.

French-American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois photographed in her studio in the Chelsea, Manhattan, 1982. Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images.

French-American artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois photographed in her studio in the Chelsea, Manhattan, 1982. Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images.

Works by women artists have been performing well in Asia, with new records including Bourgeois’s Quarantania, which sold for HK$67 million ($8.6 million) at a 2018 Seoul Auction sale.

Works by younger female artists have also fared well at Hong Kong sales. At Sotheby’s Hong Kong last year, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s painting Skye waNehanda sold for HK$3.8m million ($486,724), setting a new record for her work, while a piece by Eleanor Swordy titled Where To sold for HK$756,000 ($97,408), also setting a record for the artist.

“Naturally, the supply at auction of works by contemporary female artists is greater than works by women Old Master and Modern artists, given that there are more women thankfully creating art today,” Branczik said.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong contemporary evening sale will take place on April 27, followed by a day sale on April 28, at the auction house’s gallery at One Pacific Place in Admiralty, rather than the usual Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai.

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