Art Market

A record-setting Matthew Wong painting led Christie’s contemporary day sale.

Justin Kamp
Oct 8, 2020 6:36PM, via Christie's

Matthew Wong's Shangri-La, 2017. Courtesy Christie's.

Matthew Wong’s 2017 painting Shangri-La sold for $4.4 million at Christie’s October 7th post-war and contemporary day sale, shattering its high estimate of $700,000 and setting a new auction record for the late artist. This is the ninth work by Wong to appear at auction since his death in October of last year at the age of 35. His previous record was set in June, when his painting The Realm of Appearances (2018) sold for $1.8 million at Sotheby’s, beating its high estimate of $80,000 by a factor of 22.

Shangri-La was one of 254 lots offered at the Christie’s sale, of which 190 sold, raking in $36.4 million with a sell-through rate of 75 percent by lot. Other auction standouts include Ed Ruscha’s City, With Marbles (1969), which sold for $2.6 million, Takashi Murakami’s Oval Buddha Silver (2008), which more than tripled its high estimate to sell for $1.8 million, and Ruth Asawa’s Untitled (S.753, Hanging Ten Interlocking Double Trumpets) (ca. 1960’s) which sold for $1.05 million.

Wong passed away just as his star was on the rise. His 2018 solo show at New York’s Karma received rave reviews, with New York Times art critic Roberta Smith describing him as “one of the most talented painters of his generation.” The scarcity of his work has driven a flurry of auction interest since his passing. Artsy data reflects inquiries on Wong's work spiking dramatically in the month following his death before quickly tapering off.

Justin Kamp