Phillips and Poly Continues Partnership in Upcoming 20th Century & Contemporary Art Auction, Led by Richter’s Abstract Estimated at US$9m | Auctions News | THE VALUE

Last December, the first-ever joint auction held by Phillips and Poly Auction Hong Kong was headlined by Yoshitomo Nara’s Hothouse Doll, which was sold for HK$130m (US$13.3m). The sale totaled HK$388m (US$49.9m), and saw a more than satisfactory sell-through rate of 94%.

Following the proven success last year, Phillips and Poly Auction is looking to continue the dynamic and will collaborate once again in the forthcoming 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Sales, scheduled for June 7 and 8.

This time around, the joint sale will be presented in a dual-location format, in which Phillips’ auctioneer will be taking bids from the saleroom in Hong Kong and those relayed live from Poly’s Beijing. The headline lot is an abstract by Gerhard Richter, the Abstraktes Bild (940-7), which carries a presale estimate of HK$70m to HK$90m (US$9m-11.6m).


Gerhard Richter | Abstraktes Bild (940-7)
Executed in 2015

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 140 x 160 cm 

Estimate: HK$ 70,000,000 – 90,000,000


The joint auction, in conjunction with Beijing Poly Spring Auctions week, consists of a day sale on June 7, followed by an evening sale the night after. It will replace Phillips’ own 20th Century & Contemporary Art and Design Sales in Hong Kong this spring.

Touring exhibitions will be held across Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei, among others. Interested bidders will also be able to watch the auctions live-streamed on Phillips’ website and app, as well as Poly’s app and WeChat Mini Program.


The Asian contemporary art market has shown a fast-growing appetite for Western artworks. Even when traditional auction calendar is kaput and bidding in person is not always possible, the pandemic seems to have little impact on the auction records of Western art sold in Asia.


The current top four are as follows:

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Warrior | Christie’s Hong Kong, Mar 2021 | HK$323,600,000
  • Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (649-2) | Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Oct 2020 | HK$214,631,000
  • KAWS, THE KAWS ALBUM | Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Apr 2020 | HK$115,966,000
  • David Hockney, 30 Sunflowers | Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Jul 2020 | HK$114,827,000 


Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (649-2), sold last year for HK$214.6m (US$27.7m)

Oil on canvas | 200 x 200 cm


The star lot of the evening sale is a striking Richter abstract painting executed in 2015, which measures 140 by 160 cm. When compared to the 1987 Abstraktes Bild (649-2) that fetched HK$214.6m (US$27.7m) last year, the present lot is 44% smaller in size.

The present one, titled Abstraktes Bild (940-7) is from Richter’s renowned series, featuring vibrant shades of red and yellow, enriched with textures and powerful brush strokes. It is also “the third largest oil on canvas painting by the artist after 2000 to come to auction,” according to a statement from the auction houses.


Zhang Xiaogang, Family Portrait No. 13
Executed in 1998
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 152 x 152 cm
Provenance: (Organized by The Value)

  • Galerie de France, Paris
  • Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$7,500,000 – 9,500,000


Another premium lot of the sale comes from Zhang Xiaogang. Family Portrait No. 13 is a part of the Chinese artist’s signature Bloodline series, which accounts for about a third of his works to date. The one on offer, created in 1998, will go on the auction block for the first time in the evening sale, with a presale estimate of HK$7.5m to HK$9.5m (US$964,000 to US$1.2m).

The series’ predominantly monochromatic portraits resemble old and faded family photos and began in the early 1990s, inspired by a box of family photos Zhang found in his parents’ house. His perception of family and desire of portraying forgotten history, especially as a part of the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution during 1966 to 1976 inspired him to the series. 


Neither the preview nor the sale last year specified which auction house a particular lot was consigned to, and clients were able to speak to both houses’ specialists about the works.

Nevertheless, clients’ information was not shared between Phillips and Poly. Interested bidders could register with their preferred house and bid regardless of which house offered the lot. 

Whether or not the upcoming sale will follow similar arrangements as last year’s is yet to be known. But both Phillips and Poly are hoping to continue last year’s streak and leverage their strategic alliance to create the synergy it takes to broaden both house’s global reach. Especially with the participation of bidders in Beijing, who will hopefully fuel to the chemistry further. 


“As our rapid expansion in Asia continues apace, we are delighted to take our next step with this ground-breaking auction concept. This season’s brand-new format of dual-location sales will further bring together both houses’ resources in the mainland China and international markets in an unprecedented way, reaching the full extent of Phillips and Poly’s combined seller and buyer bases.” said Edward Dolman, CEO, and Jonathan Crockett, Chairman, Asia, Phillips in the statement. 

“Our first joint auctions in Hong Kong last year performed exceptionally well and beyond our expectations. It was not only a significant boost to the modern and contemporary art market, but also gained recognition for joint auctions between Western and Chinese auction houses. Poly Auction is very pleased to deepen the relationship with Phillips by holding another season of modern and contemporary art sales in conjunction with Beijing Poly Spring Auctions. We look forward to delivering record-setting results together with Phillips through Poly’s strong appeal across Greater China.” said Jiang Yingchun, CEO of Poly Culture Group, and Chairman of Poly Auction.

Auction Details:

Auction houses: Phillips and Poly Auction 

Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Sales

Dates: June 7-8, 2021

Venue: JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong 

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