Art Market

Market Brief: Tomokazu Matsuyama’s Market Accelerates

Shannon Lee
May 28, 2021 7:31PM

Tomokazu Matsuyama, Happy Zodiac, 2011. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

The latest

On Tuesday, Tomokazu Matsuyama’s fantastic 2011 triptych Happy Zodiac set a new auction record for the Japanese-born, Brooklyn-based artist, selling for HK$3.25 million (US$418,541) at a Christie’s day sale in Hong Kong. The work’s astonishing price is a whopping 713% above its mid-estimate.

Key figures

  • The chart above shows Matsuyama’s auction records, dating back to his first secondary-market appearance in 2012 in “RE:DEFINE,” a benefit sale hosted by MTV to raise funds for HIV prevention and education. His painting Mr. Alpha-Beta (2012) sold for $5,000, well below its $12,000 to $16,000 estimate.
  • Matsuyama’s next appearance at auction would more than make up for this underwhelming debut; the 2015 sale of two circular 2012 canvases, Alpha, Alpha, Alpha and Qilin Omega, achieved HK$175,000 (US$22,570) and HK$187,500 (US$24,182), respectively—around double their low estimates—at the “Asian Contemporary Art” day sale at Christie’s Hong Kong. Between 2012 and 2015, Matsuyama joined the Luxembourg-based Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, had his first solo exhibition at Lesley Kehoe Galleries, and had his work presented by Gallery Wendi Norris at several international art fairs.
  • Demand for Matsuyama’s work saw slow but steady momentum at Christie’s “Asian and Contemporary Art” sales in Hong Kong over the next two years, with new records set in 2016 and 2017. In that time, Matsuyama had his first institutional solo exhibition, “Oh Magic Night,” at Hong Kong Contemporary Art.
  • His temperate market has been heating up in the last year; Matsuyama’s top three auction records were all set within the last five months. Even in that context, Tuesday’s sale was unprecedented, achieving more than four times Matsuyama’s previous record, set by Me, Myself and I (2013), which sold for ¥10.69 million (over $99,000) just last month at an SBI Art Auction sale in Tokyo.


Matsuyama’s most recent jaw-dropping result was likely inspired by a solo exhibition that traveled to the Long Museum’s Shanghai and Chongqing spaces, closing earlier this month, and LACMA’s acquisition of a massive 2014 painting, You Need to Come Closer, in February. Given this growing institutional interest, and an upcoming solo show at Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery in 2022, it’s likely that the market for Matsuyama’s colorful works will continue to see a strong upward trend on both sides of the Pacific, setting a new secondary-market benchmark for the artist. On Artsy, demand for Matsuyama’s works is the highest it’s ever been, with the number of inquiries thus far in 2021 already surpassing last year’s total.

Explore more works by Tomokazu Matsuyama.

Shannon Lee

Update: A previous version of this article did not include information about Matsumaya’s work with Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery. The text has been updated to incorporate this information.