The 2016 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong finished on a successful note. Not a given in the light of a context that rouses concern and China’s economic slowdown prompting a 23 % dive in the art market in 2015 (according to the 2016 TEFAF report).
Not only did sales keep up their level, they even progressed spectacularly according to some of the fair’s 239 exhibiting gallerists. While visitor numbers dropped noticeably, there was no effect on sales, and certain galleries announced selling almost all of their works on offer at the fair. One of the best sales was achieved by Cardi Gallery (London, Milan) for a work by Cy Twombly, sold for $10 million; Pace Gallery (New York) sold 19 works including four by Robert Rauschenberg. Dominique Lévy (New York, London, Geneva) sold a Rudolf Stingel for $1.9 million; Lehmann Maupin (New York, London, Hong Kong) sold six works by Tracey Emin; Hauser & Wirth sold works by Mark Bradford, Alexander Calder’s Morning Cobweb (1967), as well as Louise Bourgeois’ monumental bronze sculpture Spider Couple (2003). David Zwirner (New York) sold five works by Michaël Borremans, including The Shaker for $1.6 million and a painting by Luc Tuymans for the same amount.
So 2016 marks a vintage-like edition of the Art Basel Hong Kong, even if exhibitors speak more with relief than genuine euphoria.