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Auction cash cows Jean-Michel Basquiat and Zao Wou-ki underperformed as collectors chased up-and-coming young artists.

Jadé Fadojutimi, Shara Hughes, and Rafa Macarrón Shine at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sales

Rafa Macarrón, Rutina Fluor (2019). Mzixed media on canvas. 226.2 by 294 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Fifteen artists set records at Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary Art Sales in Hong Kong, which saw HK $887m (US $114m) of Western art sold over the weekend.

Works by several young artists eclipsed their high estimates more than three times over.

Jadé Fadojutimi's Under the Weather (2017) sold for HK $6.2m (US $799,600). The 28-year-old British painter is the youngest artist to have a work in the Tate Collection.

Jadé Fadojutimi's Under the Weather (2017). Oil on canvas. 185 by 175 cm.

Jadé Fadojutimi's Under the Weather (2017). Oil on canvas. 185 by 175 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

American painter Shara Hughes' Pink Morning (2016) sold for HK $5m (US $644,180), more than four times its high estimate of HK $1.2m.

And, pictured top, Spanish artist Rafa Macarrón's cartoonish diptych Rutina Fluor (2019) sold for a staggering HK $4.3m (US $550,280), more than six times its high estimate in the artist's first appearance at auction in Asia.

Other artists who set records include Loie Hollowell, Peter McDonald, Nicolas Party and Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, whose NFT derived from the movie In the Mood for Love (2000) sold for HK $4.3 million (US $552,700).

'We set out to put together a sale that simply speaks to what our clients across Asia are looking for,' said Max Moore, head of contemporary art sales at Sotheby's Asia. 'In our case, this means important pieces by storied contemporary masters, as well as buzzy young artists who have recently started taking art fairs, or indeed Instagram, by storm.'

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982). Acrylic and oil stick on linen. 195.6 by 198 cm.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982). Acrylic and oil stick on linen. 195.6 by 198 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

The 'buzzy young artists' significantly outperformed contemporary and modern masters at Sotheby's Hong Kong auctions this time around.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982) fetched HK $162.9m (US $20.9m), the greatest sum of any work sold over the weekend, but that was towards the low end of Sotheby's estimated range of HK$150-200m.

Pablo Picasso's Femme Accroupie (1954) sold for HK $191.7m (US$24.6m), a record for Picasso at auction in Asia, but smack in the middle of Sotheby's estimates, while Vincent Van Gogh's Nature Morte: Vase Aux Glaïeuls (1886), realised HK $71m (US $9.1m), just inside the low estimate.

Sanyu, Nu endormi (1950s). Oil on masonite. 71 x 127 cm.

Sanyu, Nu endormi (1950s). Oil on masonite. 71 x 127 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Three of five works by Chinese painter Zao Wou-ki, who regularly sells for outlandish amounts at auction, were passed in, and Sanyu's oil on masonite portrait Nu endormi (1950s) sold for HK $80.2m, barely over half the high estimate.

With China facing significant economic headwinds—including persisting problems from the pandemic, a fragile property market in the wake of the Evergrande crisis, and harsh new rules for tech giants as part of China's new 'common prosperity' agenda—collectors may have been more reluctant to part with their millions.

Nevertheless, works by Joan Mitchell, Roy Lichtenstein, and Cecily Brown managed to beat Sotheby's top estimates. —[O]

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