Prompted by growth in the Asian art market in the past year, Sotheby’s has unveiled plans to stage a curated five-lot auction titled “ICONS: Masterpieces from Across Time and Space,” which will featuring paintings by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Sanyu, and Zhang Daquian, as well as a Song Dynasty Bodhisattva sculpture from the 11th century. Scheduled to take place on April 18 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery at One Pacific Place, just before Sotheby’s modern art evening sale, the auction is expected to achieve a collective $38 million.
This spring season is part of the house’s grandest sales series in the region to date, with 2,500 lots ranging from antiquities to contemporary art set to be offered across 14 sales from April 16–23. Together, they are expected to bring in at least $417 million. Evening sales devoted to modern and contemporary art featuring works by Clyfford Still, Yoshitomo Nara, Zao Wou-Ki, and Che Tu Chin will be held on April 18 and 19.
Leading the “ICONS” sale is Sanyu’s Nu avec un pékinois (1950s), featuring a single lounging female nude, a subject that also appears in Sanyu’s second-most expensive ever work sold on the market—the $33 million Quatre Nu (ca. 1950s) auctioned at Sotheby’s last year. Another highlight, made two decades later, is Picasso’s late-career portrait Buste de matador (1970), which derives from the artist’s final “Matador” series. The two paintings are each estimated at $12.9 million–$19.3 million.
Alongside those works, Sotheby’s will offer a small brass bust by Giacommetti from 1973 at an estimate of $1.8 million, as well as an ink painting on gold paper by Chinese modernist Zhang Daquian. The self-portrait shows the artist with a Tibetan mastiff, and it is estimated at $6.2 million. Finally, a large-scale antique wooden sculpture of Tibetan deity Avalokiteshvara is estimated to sell for $3.9 million.
Over the past year, Sotheby’s has staged several live-streamed themed evening sales with offerings spanning Old Masters to contemporary art across its New York, London, and Paris sale centers. This is the first time that a fully curated auction of this caliber—one featuring both Western and Asian artists—will be held in Asia.
The sale’s announcement directly follows news that Nathan Drahi, the 26-year-old son of Sotheby’s owner Patrick Drahi, has been promoted to the role of managing director in Asia, taking the reins in the Hong Kong sale center as the region’s long-time CEO Kevin Ching prepares to retire at the end of the year.