Yoshitomo Nara Installation Fetches Record $15.5m at Poly Auction in Hong Kong
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The work is the second most expensive Nara ever sold at auction.
Yoshitomo Nara, Berlin Barack, Room 1 (2007). Mixed media installation. 263 × 317 × 279 cm. Within: Hothouse Doll (2007), acrylic on canvas, 146 × 130.5 cm; and Three Sisters (Berlin Version) (2007), acrylic on wood panel, 102.5 × 183 cm.
Yoshitomo Nara's Berlin Barack, Room 1 (2007) sold for HK $120m (US $15.5m) at Poly Auction Hong Kong's Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on 21 April. Altogether, 86 out of 96 lots sold at the auction, bringing in a total of US $34.3m.
The work is a 2.6-metre-tall wooden house accompanied by the acrylic on canvas painting Hothouse Doll and acrylic on wood panel painting Three Sisters (Berlin Version). It was last seen at auction in 2012, when it brought in HK $11.3m (US $1.5m).
That the house was sold along with its accompanying paintings 'enhanced its significance', according to Jamie Yu, head of Modern and Contemporary Art at Poly Auction Hong Kong.
'In the end, it was capable of surpassing in value many of his two-dimensional works,' she said.
The price paid for the work is a record for a Nara installation, and the second highest Nara has ever fetched at auction. The only work to sell at a higher price is the painting Knife Behind Back (2000), which sold for US $24.9 million at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2019.
'Following the world auction record of Yoshitomo Nara in 2019, Poly Auction Hong Kong has become a vital force in driving the artist's market,' Yu said. 'We were delighted to have the opportunity to bring Berlin Barack, Room 1 to sale and for it to become his second-highest-priced work sold at auction. It would not have been possible without the tremendous support from our collectors and the immense effort from our specialist team.'
The market for Nara's work has been extremely strong in recent years.
In 2019, Poly Auction Hong Kong sold two houses—Not Everything But / Green House (2009) for US $5.1m and Not Everything But / Orange House (2009) for US $4.1m—record prices for Nara installations at the time. The auction house also sold the painting Hothouse Doll (1995) for $13.2m in a joint auction with Phillips in December 2020.
Nara is being exhibited widely at public institutions with solo shows continuing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) through 5 July, the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, through 20 June, and Dallas Contemporary through 22 August. —[O]