Inside Shara Hughes’ booming market

Oddly enough, perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Hughes’ job market is the global appeal of his paintings. Presenhuber stressed that the works “have an emotional depth that can speak to anyone,” while Uffner emphasized the universality of the work by explaining that collectors of Hughes paintings generally cannot be painted with just one. brush stroke (excuse the pun). “From Met administrators who mostly collect modern and historical works, to young collectors in Asia who focus on hyper-contemporary artists, Shara’s collection base is large and cannot be categorized into one mold,” he said. Uffner said.

In fact, while interest from the United States, South America and Europe has remained strong, it is undeniable that demand from Asia has contributed significantly to the explosion of the market for Hughes in recent years. The artist’s previous auction record was set by his 2016 painting High water at Christie’s “20th Century: Hong Kong to New York” sale last December, when it surpassed its estimate of HK $ 800,000 to HK $ 1.2 million (US $ 103,000 US $ 155,000) and was eventually sold for HK $ 4.1 million (US $ 532,000) at the opening of the parcel sale. However, that record was reset once again this week at a Christie’s Day sale in Hong Kong, when one of Hughes’ 2010 indoor stages, I don’t deserve these flowers, more than quadrupled its high estimate of HK $ 1 million (nearly $ 129,000), selling for HK $ 4.75 million (nearly $ 612,000). In the midst of such a sparkling market, even relatively minor works such as the small painting Broccoli trees (2016) have exceeded their estimates. As the opening lot of Christie’s online sale last December, the 14-by-11-inch painting sold for $ 37,500 against its estimate of $ 10,000 to $ 15,000, a mind-boggling sum for a work that has probably acquired for less than $ 5,000 just five years ago. before.

Meanwhile, based on Artsy’s data, it wasn’t just the art world’s greatest collectors and museums who found themselves fascinated by Hughes’ painting. If his work first appeared on Artsy in January 2015, it was not until 2017, the year of the Whitney Biennale, that pieces began to be offered more regularly on the platform. This fall saw a spike in inquiries, and since then, whenever his work has been featured on the site, he has been greeted with a flood of inquiries. The number of individual collectors inquiring about his work on Artsy more than tripled from 2017 to 2019, the latter being his biggest year on Artsy to date. However, based on the number of collectors inquiring about his work on Artsy so far in 2021 (already 87% of the total for all of 2019), this year is poised to be his biggest yet. day on the platform.

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Jamie Collins

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