Sotheby’s is offering a high-profile preview of a $ 40 million work by Sandro Botticelli in Asia this week during its fall series of Hong Kong sales, following a record-breaking sale earlier this year in New York. The offer paves the way for possible future auctions of Old Masters works in the region as collectors’ appetite for prime Western pieces continues to grow.
The work to be unveiled in Hong Kong on Thursday is The man of sorrows, a portrait of a Risen Christ that was executed in the late 15th or early 16th century, a later period in the career of the famous Renaissance artist. With a presale estimate of over $ 40 million, the work is a flagship lot at the auction house’s annual Masters Week in New York City, which takes place in January next year. The work, which has a financial guarantee before the auction, will be on tour in London, Los Angeles, Dubai and New York before the sale.
The painting will arrive at auction almost exactly one year after the January 2021 sale of Young man holding a cockade, which grossed $ 92.2 million in New York City and set a new artist record and a record for the most valuable work ever sold in an Old Masters auction. The job was handed over to an anonymous bidder over the phone, but the underbidder was from Asia, Sotheby’s said.
Christopher Apostle, head of Old Masters paintings at Sotheby’s in New York, called for Hong Kong unveiling The man of sorrows an “exciting new thing”.
“The Old Master team has seen a resurgence of interest in Old Master painting in Asia,” Apostle told Artnet News in a telephone interview, adding that the Asian announcement is the right approach because “Botticelli is a top-notch name that everyone knows “in the area. The Hong Kong Museum of Art organized the exhibition Botticelli and his time – Masterpieces of the Uffizi in 2020.
Sales of modern and contemporary Western works have been successful in Asia in recent years. Apostle revealed that collectors in Asia come not only from mainland China and Taiwan, but also from Japan and other regions. He added that the auctioneer’s London team had cultivated new collectors from different countries and some clients were in their 30s.
“They are sophisticated people who really devoted their time to studying towards a painting. They are interested in art history, go to museums and spend time traveling to Rome or Amsterdam to study the works in their places of origin, ”said Apostle.
So far, however, the major international auction houses have held preview exhibitions of Old Master paintings in Hong Kong, while often selling the works in London or New York or through private sales. But holding Old Masters auctions in Asia is not entirely impossible, according to Apostle.
“We have thought of offering Renaissance works in Asia,” he said. “As the market deepens in Asia, we might consider Old Masters auctions in Asia. It may be the future.
Meanwhile, more top-notch Western artwork from different time periods is expected to sell in Asia in the next quarter of the year. Christie’s has announced that it will donate a monumental painting by Gerhard Richter Summary Bild 747-1 at its 20th and 21st Century Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong on December 1. China Guardian will launch its first Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art as part of its Fall 2021 Beijing Auctions in mid-November, featuring a 1913 painting by Claude Monet titled Water lily pond, rosebushes and other works by Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Pablo Picasso.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s evening and daytime modern and contemporary art sales will be held on October 9 and 10.
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