Art Basel Hong Kong 2024 Closes to Strong Sales, With Willem de Kooning Artwork as Most Expensive Lot
A recap of who came, who saw, and who conquered the art market this past week.
BY P.Ramakrishnan  |  April 3, 2024
3 Minute Read

Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

Back with a bang, there was indeed Murder on the Dancefloor as Sophie Ellis-Bextor crooned at Rosewood Hong Kong on the eve of Art Basel Hong Kong. Artists, gallerists, and those in their circles braced themselves ahead of the biggest art event in the city this year. Indeed, the 11th iteration of Art Basel Hong Kong culminated in a strong turnout and significant sales.

Abstract painting and sculptures at Art Basel Hong Kong.
Hauser & Wirth.
Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

Starting off strong, Hauser & Wirth stole the show by securing the most expensive reported sale, and on the first VIP day of the fair, no less. Willem de Kooning’s Untitled III (1986) sold for a whopping US$9 million (HK$70.4 million). However, the lithograph was not the only multi-million-dollar baby grabbed. Other significant sales included Philip Guston’s The Desire (1978), not far behind at US$8.5 million (HK$66.5 million). George Condo’s Constructed Female Portrait (2024), which sold for over US$2 million (HK$15.6 million). Lynne Drexler’s Plumed Bloom (1967) went for US$1.2 million (HK$9.3 million) at White Cube. Thaddaeus Ropac’s top lot was Tony Cragg’s Incident Solo (2023), sold for €725,000 (HK$6 million). 

Mark Bradford’s return to Hong Kong was rewarding—May the Lord be the First One in the Car…and the Last Out (2023) sold for US$3.5 million (HK$27 million). Notably, Victoria Miro sold three ever-popular Yayoi Kusama pieces for a total of US$11 million (HK$86 million).

A woman inspecting an abstract painting at Art Basel Hong Kong.
Gajah Gallery.
Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

Reports indicate that 75,000 visitors attended Art Basel Hong Kong this year (compared to 86,000 in 2023 and 88,000 in 2019). Not exactly pre-pandemic numbers, but Guernica wasn’t painted in a day, and the coming years can only see a rise in interest, numbers, and relevance.

Man viewing sculptural artwork on the wall.
Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

“Art Basel Hong Kong returned to its full scale and spirit this edition, with the city opening its doors to visitors from all around the world once again,” said Angelle Siyang-Le, who directed Art Basel Hong Kong for the second year in a row, in an official statement. “I am deeply grateful to all the galleries, artists, patrons, institutional representatives, and cultural partners whose collaboration delivered a show of world-class range and quality in our home in Hong Kong.”

Two visitors viewing hyperrealistic artworks at Art Basel Hong Kong.
Johyun Gallery.
Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

“This edition reflected the city itself to the world: utterly alive and teeming with energy, a meeting place of tradition and the avant-garde, a port of cultures and an essential bridge in the evolving art landscape across regions. Art Basel Hong Kong continues to be a vital anchor in Asia’s ever-growing local art scenes and a key moment in the global art trade calendar.”

Woman viewing sculpture at Art Basel Hong Kong.
Tina Keng Gallery.
Image courtesy of Art Basel Hong Kong

Meanwhile, as the curtains close on the 2024 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, there’s already welcome news in anticipation of next year’s fair. From 2025 onwards, MGM will present a prize for emerging artists under the Discoveries umbrella, Art Basel Hong Kong’s sector for solo presentations by newcomers. The MGM Discoveries Art Prize is designed to foster emerging artists and encourage new talent. Further details will be released later this year. 

Until then, watch this space.

Above images courtesy of P. Ramakrishnan.