Sir Joseph Hotung's Personal Collection totals double-estimate £103 million

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sir Joseph Hotung's Personal Collection totals double-estimate £103 million
Auction scene. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Following an auction series that began with sales in Hong Kong this October, today, the final hammer came down on the extraordinary personal collection of Sir Joseph Hotung. Sir Joseph’s home brought together remarkable Asian works – from jewel-like jades and classical Chinese huanghuali furniture to works by titans of Western painting and rarities of French silver and superlative examples of 18th-century English craftsmanship. 

Over the course of four live sales and an online sale, 475 lots sold to bring a total of £103.3m / HK$931.6m / US$119.2m (est. £40.5-59.7m) – more than doubling pre-sale expectations. Across the auctions, 93% of the lots offered found new homes, with 70% selling for sums in excess of their high-estimates and 22 lots breaking the £1 million mark. The series saw over 1,000 participants hail from 44 countries. 

“Sir Joseph Hotung is a name that has long resonated in the sphere of collectors and museums, and it has been a real career highlight to open the doors to the hitherto unseen personal collection behind this great figure. Testament to Sir Joseph’s exacting taste and unique eye, we saw spirited bidding across all of the auctions, with the final result eclipsing any pre-sale expectations.” --Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's Chairman of Asian Arts

Prior to the sale, Sir Joseph bequeathed almost the entirety of his outstanding collections of early Chinese blue-and-white porcelains and of Jades to the British Museum – in what marks one of the most significant bequests in the British Museum’s recent history.

Top Lots 


• Edgar Degas’ portrait of Eugène Manet (Lot 13), sold for £6.3m (est. £4-6m). Painted in 1874 and epitomising the artist’s distinctive approach to portraiture, the work is one of the hidden gems of Degas’ art. 

• Gentlemen in Black by Édouard Vuillard (Lot 7), an enigmatic and sophisticated painting that had remained unseen since 1983, made its auction debut at £4m (est. £1.5-2m). A further six paintings by the Parisian painter were sold, representing the finest offering to be presented at auction from a single collection for decades.

• An exceptional huanghuali altar table (Qiaotouan), Late Ming dynasty (Lot 2), sold for £1.6m (est. £200,000-300,000).

• A turquoise and coral-inlaid silver ‘Nine Dragons’ seal (Lot 212) soared to over £1m (est. £10,000-15,000).  

• An Imperial battle painting (Lot 195), an impressive example from a set of seventeen paintings depicting commemorative scenes between the Qing Imperial Army and rebel forces, brought £630,000 (est. £60,000-80,000). 

Hong Kong:

• A very rare and outstanding huanghuali folding horseshoe-back armchair, jiaoyi, Late Ming dynasty (Lot 11), sold for HK$124.6m / £14.2m (est. HK$10-15m), following 15 minutes of heated bidding, with 60 bids placed - auction record for a Chinese chair, and third highest price for any chair at auction.

• Flowers and Fruits by Qi Baishi (Lot 9), sold for HK$78.7m / £9m (est. HK$18-30m) - the largest known multi-panel work by the artist, spanning more than nine feet in height.

• A highly important gilt-bronze seated figure of Avalokiteshvara, Dali Kingdom, 11th - 12th century (Lot 10), made HK$48.8m / £5.6m (est. HK$15-20m.)

• An important and exceptionally painted blue and white 'fish' jar, guan, Yuan dynasty (Lot 6), sold for HK$39.7m / £4.5m (est. HK$20-25m).

• A jade animal-shaped plaque, Late Eastern Zhou - Western Han dynasty, 3rd - 2nd century BC (Lot 17), sold for HK$16.1m / £1.8m (est. HK$800,000-1.2m).

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