Sotheby’s announced on Tuesday that it will be selling Untitled
(1958), a large painting by Zao Wou-Ki
during the March auctions in Hong Kong, estimating that the work from the master Chinese artist’s “Oracle Bone” period could sell for between HK$60 and HK$80 million ($7.7 million to $10 million).
That price is a far cry from the artist’s record, established at Sotheby’s Hong Kong last November when the gigantic triptych Juin-Octobre 1985
(1985) sold for $65 million
, marking a new high for a work made by an Asian oil painter. But what makes this new Wou-Ki consignment interesting is the provenance—it’s being deaccessioned by the Guggenheim, which is selling the work more than 50 years after it entered the collection.
While an infrequent action, a museum selling work from its collection at auction is not necessarily scandalous; in this case, the proceeds raised by the sale will benefit the Guggenheim’s art fund.
In a statement, Vinci Chang, Sotheby’s head of Modern Asian Art, said: