Artist world records for Martin Wong, Kenny Scharf, and Felrath Hines at Bonhams

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Artist world records for Martin Wong, Kenny Scharf, and Felrath Hines at Bonhams
City of the Future (2005) by Kenny Scharf (b. 1958) sold for $983,175. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- A masterpiece by Martin Wong (1946-1999) achieved the artist’s world record at $1,260,375 at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary sale on Thursday May 19. The large-scale painting, Quong Yuen Shing & Co., is a superlative example of the artist’s practice, which depicts the storefront of the longest continuously operating business in New York’s Chinatown first opening in 1891. Wong was a visionary artist of the late 20th Century who captured urban life in downtown New York and in recent years has gained huge market success and institutional recognition.

“Wong was among the ‘80s art scene with artists like Warhol and Scharf, and it is due time for his career to be recognized in the market," commented Andrew Huber, Senior Specialist and Head of Sale for Post-War & Contemporary Art at Bonhams in New York. “We’re thrilled to have brought to auction what he called his best work in 1998 when it was first sold and clearly the market today agrees.”

Scott Kahn (b. 1946), also a new market star, kicked off the sale with The Studio that was quickly bid up to a final price of $353,175. Additional world records were achieved for Felrath Hines (1913-1993) at $53,295 for Untitled and undoubtedly the largest and most ambitious painting by Kenny Scharf (b. 1958), City of the Future (2005) realized $983,175. Lynne Drexler’s (1928-1999) Untitled sold for $208,275, smashing records for a work on paper by the artist. Drexler is another new star on the auction block, as the market shifts in its recognition of female Abstract Expressionists who have been previously overshadowed by male counterparts.

Another monumental moment occurred in today’s auction, marking the first sale of an original Andy Warhol (1928-1987) digital and animated series of art. The item was sold as a computer disk with a refurbished Amiga 1000 computer in order to see the moving images in the way Warhol had originally intended. Selling for $252,375 to The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, proves the rarity of the item that makes a significant addition to the known catalogue of Warhol’s digital art. Created in the 1980s by Warhol, it was only a few years ago that the art was recovered, and the important discovery was made that Warhol animated these classic icons and provided new understanding to his statement after creating the work, "I have always wanted to be Walt Disney, and now I know I can be an animator."

An exceptional Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession (1997) in gold, a rare use of the color that gives the work a shimmering appeal to her recognizable motif, quickly jumped above the estimate with over 30 bidders and eventually selling for $1,134,375. Another work by the artist, Pumpkin (1991), achieved $466,575, both works demonstrating Bonhams’ strong selling record of works by Kusama following its 2021 sale of a previously unseen collection of the earliest works by Kusama for over $15,000,000.

Leading the auction, Ralph Taylor, Global Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art for Bonhams commented, “we saw a frenzied bidding in the room, with the majority of works selling above estimate, demonstrating great confidence in the market. Three major artists achieved world records today and we’re thrilled to have brought these works to auction.”

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