Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction Around the World in December 2021

We harvested the Price Database to bring you the freshest crop of top lots.

Auctioneer Elaine Kwok sold Jean-Michel Basquiat's Donut Revenge to a phone bidder represented by Eric Chang, Christie's chair of modern and contemporary art in Hong Kong. Courtesy of Christie's.
Auctioneer Elaine Kwok sold Jean-Michel Basquiat's Donut Revenge to a phone bidder represented by Eric Chang, Christie's chair of modern and contemporary art in Hong Kong. Courtesy of Christie's.

To round off a year in which wealthy Asian collectors were the stars of the art market, the 15 most expensive lots sold in December 2021 took place at auction houses in Hong Kong and mainland China, although perhaps against the grain of the growing appetite of these buyers for Western art, only three lots were not by Chinese artists. The non-Chinese artists included (surprise, surprise) Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gerhard Richter, whose paintings each achieved as-expected results well within their estimates. That Christie’s Hong Kong sale—which combined a curated sale of 19 lots with a 57-lot sale of international works—totaled $192.6 million, a more than 60 percent increase from its fall evening sale in 2020 (unless otherwise stated all prices include buyer’s premium; pre-sale estimates do not).

The month’s top lot, Zhang Daqian’s Autumn Morning from 1978, became the artist’s second-most expensive work sold at auction, bringing in just over $30 million. The second-most expensive work sold in December set its own record. French painter Balthus’s The Cat in the Mirror (ca. 1990) brought in more than $26 million, easily besting the artist’s second highest price at auction, the $19 million Thérèse sur une banquette, which sold at Christie’s back in 2019. A portrait of Consort Chunhui by Italian missionary Lang Shining (also known as Giuseppe Castiglione), which came in at number 15 on our list, still achieved $10 million, more than twice what it achieved when it was sold at Bonhams in 2012.

Since we launched Artnet News Pro in May 2020, we’ve been analyzing the data harvested from the Artnet Price Database to find the top 15 lots to sell at auction each month. Here are the results for December 2021.

1. Zhang Daqian, Autumn Morning (1978)

Zhang Daqian, <i>Autumn Morning</i> (1978). Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co.

Zhang Daqian, Autumn Morning (1978). Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 195,500,000 CNY ($30,692,666)

Where & When: China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd., December 10, 2021

 

2. Balthus, The Cat in the Mirror (ca. 1990) 

Balthus, <i>The Cat in the Mirror </i>(ca. 1990). Courtesy of Yongle Auction Co., Ltd.

Balthus, The Cat in the Mirror (ca. 1990). Courtesy of Yongle Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 166,750,000 CNY ($26,152,760)

Where & When: Yongle Auction Co., Ltd., December 3, 2021

 

3. Zhou Zhimian, Hundred Flowers 

Zhou Zhimian, <i>Hundred Flowers </i>. Courtesy of China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd.

Zhou Zhimian, Hundred Flowers. Courtesy of China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 148,350,000 CNY ($23,289,220)

Where & When: China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd., December 12, 2021

 

4. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Donut Revenge (1982)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, <i>Donut Revenge</i> (1982). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Donut Revenge (1982). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: HKD 140 million to HKD 190 million ($17.9 million to $24.4 million)

Final Price: HKD 163.3 million ($20,959,006)

Where & When: Christie’s Hong Kong, December 1, 2021

 

5. Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild 747-1 (1991)

Gerhard Richter, <i>Abstraktes Bild 747-1</i> (1991). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild 747-1 (1991). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: HKD 128 million to HKD 166 million ($16.4 million to $21.3 million)

Final Price: HKD 140.4 million ($18,019,868)

Where & When: Christie’s Hong Kong, December 1, 2021

 

6. Fu Baoshi, Drawing of Lady Liuyin for Luo Shihui (1945)

Fu Baoshi, <i>Drawing of Lady Liuyin for Luo Shihui</i> (1945). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Fu Baoshi, Drawing of Lady Liuyin for Luo Shihui (1945). Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 97,750,000 CNY ($15,330,928)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., December 3, 2021

 

7. Zhang Daqian, Pine Peak and Xiao Oi Mirror Heart and Color on Paper (1969)

Zhang Daqian, <i>Pine Peak and Xiao Oi Mirror Heart and Color on Paper</i> (1969). Courtesy of Holly's International Beijing.

Zhang Daqian, Pine Peak and Xiao Oi Mirror Heart and Color on Paper (1969). Courtesy of Holly’s International Beijing.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 92,000,000 CNY ($14,442,927)

Where & When: Holly’s International Beijing, December 11, 2021

 

8. Qi Baishi, For the album of Guangbinfeng (1921) 

Qi Baishi, <i>For the album of Guangbinfeng</i> (1921). Courtesy of Holly's International Beijing.

Qi Baishi, For the album of Guangbinfeng (1921). Courtesy of Holly’s International Beijing.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 92,000,000 CNY ($14,442,927)

Where & When: Holly’s International Beijing, December 11, 2021

 

9. Sanyu, Vase de lys sur fond marron (Vase of Lilies with Red Ground) (ca. 1940s)

Sanyu, <i>Vase de lys sur fond marron (Vase of Lilies with Red Ground)</i> (ca. 1940s). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Sanyu, Vase de lys sur fond marron (Vase of Lilies with Red Ground) (ca. 1940s). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: HKD 100,000,000 to HKD 150,000,000 ($12,834,664 to $19,251,996)

Final Price: HKD 100,325,000 ($12,876,377) 

Where & When: Christie’s Hong Kong, December 1, 2021

 

10. Guo Zhongshu, Houses and Terraces in the Mountains

Guo Zhongshu, <i>Houses and Terraces in the Mountains</i>. Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Guo Zhongshu, Houses and Terraces in the Mountains. Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: 50,000,000 CNY to 60,000,000 CNY ($7,849,417 to $9,419,300)

Final Price: 77,625,000 CNY ($12,186,220)

Where & When: China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd., December 12, 2021

 

11. Wang Zhenpeng, Trophy hand scroll

Wang Zhenpeng, <i>Trophy hand scroll </i>. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Wang Zhenpeng, Trophy hand scroll. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd. 

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 75,900,000 CNY ($11,903,455)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., December 4, 2021

 

12. Zhang Daqian, Summer Mountain Hermitage (1947)

Zhang Daqian, <i>Summer Mountain Hermitage</i> (1947). Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Zhang Daqian, Summer Mountain Hermitage (1947). Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: 50,000,000 CNY to 80,000,000 CNY ($7,849,786 to $12,559,658)

Final Price: 72,450,000 CNY ($11,374,341)

Where & When: China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd., December 12, 2021

 

13. Gong Xian, Fu Shan and Liang Qingbiao Et Al., Landscapes and Poems Attribute to Gao Shiqi

Gong Xian, Fu Shan and Liang Qingbiao Et Al., <i>Landscapes and Poems Attributed to Gao Shiqi</i>. Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Gong Xian, Fu Shan and Liang Qingbiao Et Al., Landscapes and Poems Attributed to Gao Shiqi. Courtesy of China Guardian Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: 5,000,000 CNY to 8,000,000 CNY ($784,942 to $1,255,907)

Final Price: 69,230,000 CNY ($10,868,303)

Where & When: China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd., December 12, 2021

 

14. Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione), Portrait of Consort Chunhui

Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione), <i>Portrait of Consort Chunhui</i>. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione), Portrait of Consort Chunhui. Courtesy of Poly International Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 69,000,000 CNY ($10,821,323)

Where & When: Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., December 5, 2021

 

15. Cui Ruzhuo, Fingerprint Plum Blossom 16

Cui Ruzhuo,<i> Fingerprint Plum Blossom 16</i>. Courtesy of Yongle Auction Co., Ltd.

Cui Ruzhuo, Fingerprint Plum Blossom 16. Courtesy of Yongle Auction Co., Ltd.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: 64,400,000 CNY ($10,098,951)

Where & When: Yongle Auction Co., Ltd., December 2, 2021


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