Art Market

Market Brief: Roby Dwi Antono’s Rapid Rise Continues with New Auction Record

Benjamin Sutton
Jul 5, 2021 12:00PM

The latest

Last week, the Indonesian artist Roby Dwi Antono’s auction record was broken on Artsy, when his work Lonesome Hero #3 (2021) sold for $30,000 as part of Artsy’s “Art Keeps Nonprofits Going IV” benefit auction. The work—a drawing of a figure with a crustacean’s claw where one of its hands should be, executed in red pencil on cardboard—is characteristic of Antono’s surrealistic imagery, which has drawn comparisons to artists like Mark Ryden. Eleven bidders competed for Lonesome Hero #3, driving its final price to nearly 10 times its estimate.

Key figures

  • Last week’s result more than doubled Antono’s previous auction record, set in October 2020 when the large spray-paint composition Kirana (2019) sold for HK$106,250 (US$13,700). That sum was nearly double the work’s high estimate.
  • Prior to the string of lots that have come to market since last fall, Antono’s work had been offered on the secondary market twice, both times in 2017. Those works had more pronounced fairytale imagery, featuring figures with human bodies and rabbit heads occupying fanciful scenes. The more recent demand has centered on newer, more pared-down works—including limited-edition sculptures—that nonetheless retain Antono’s magical edge.
  • Recent primary- and secondary-market data suggest that auction prices for Antono’s work may be outpacing gallery prices. His sold-out solo show at Los Angeles’s Thinkspace gallery in February featured drawings priced between $2,400 and $4,200, and paintings ranging from $4,800 for smaller compositions featuring a single figure, to $16,200 for the largest works.
  • In May, Tokyo gallery Nanzuka offered a work by Antono at Art Basel in Hong Kong. The monochromatic portrait Kila (2021) sold on the fair’s opening day for an undisclosed price.


Antono’s work fits with a group of very popular contemporary artists who have evolved distinctive styles of painting rooted in stylized portraiture that draws on elements from Pop art, Surrealism, and mass culture—artists like Javier Calleja, Liu Ye, and Yoshitomo Nara. Like those artists, Antono is working in a vein that seems to have enormous appeal; the members of the trendsetting collecting collective League OTO are fans.

On Artsy, demand for Antono’s work was minimal through 2019, then surged dramatically in 2020 when the number of collectors inquiring about his work on the platform increased nearly sevenfold. Just over halfway through 2021, this year is already his biggest on the platform and on track to nearly triple last year’s total number of inquirers. Given those numbers, rising auction prices, and his first European solo exhibition slated to open in early December at Unit London, expect competition for his works—from the paintings and drawings to prints and limited-edition figures—to heat up in the latter half of the year.

Explore more works by Roby Dwi Antono.

Benjamin Sutton