Sotheby’s has unveiled a new-to-market painting by Clyfford Still that will lead its contemporary art sales this month in Hong Kong. Still’s PH-568 (1965) will be offered on April 19 alongside works by other Western artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Gerhard Richter, and Adrian Ghenie. It is expected to fetch a price of $13.5 million–$18.7 million.
The present owner purchased the late-period painting, made when Still left New York to live in Maryland, where he produced some of his most famous works, at the storied Marlborough Gallery in 1969. The work is now coming to auction after five decades in private hands.
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Also making its auction debut at the Hong Kong contemporary art sale is Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections on Thud! (1990), a painting depicting a fallen dinosaur using a comic-book aesthetic. That work has been in a private collection since 1990, when the collector purchased it through Lichtenstein’s dealer Leo Castelli. It failed to sell at Christie’s in 2000, when it carried an estimate of $1 million, and now it is expected to sell for $10 million–$13.9 million.
Meanwhile, Gerhard Richter’s 1985 abstraction Schwefel (Sulphur) is estimated at $10.3 million-$12.9 million, and there will also be works by Chinese contemporary artists on offer—Zhang Xiaogang’s Bloodline: Mother and Son No.1 (1993) and Zeng Fanzhi’s Mask Series No. 18 (1994) are expected to fetch a collected $4.7 million.
The uptick in works by Western blue-chip artists offered in Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale signals a rising demand for them in the Asian art market, which generated more buzz than the New York art market during the December 2020 marquee evening auctions. This auction is expected to bring in one of the biggest sums ever for a Hong Kong evening sale for Sotheby’s to date. The houses’s head of contemporary art in Asia, Yuki Terase, said in a statement that the milestone estimate “demonstrates the maturing sophistication and appetite of Asian collectors.”