Sotheby's turnover in Hong Kong in the first half of the year ($453 M) topped that of Christie's ($352 million), confirming the key role played by the "Pearl of the Orient" in the international strategy of major auction houses.
Having come to confront their Chinese competitors on their own ground, the English and American auction giants have readily joined forces with them, as Phillips did this year with Poly Auction. For the former, Hong Kong now accounts for 26% of its total sales. Phillips, which arrived on the scene in 2011 with watches, has been staging Fine Art sessions there—representing a quarter of its business—since 2016. The pieces offered in Hong Kong by foreign operators are carefully selected: only 5,000 lots were sold there in the first half of the year, for some $1 bn. The highest bid went to Basquiat's Warrior (1982), which fetched $41.7 M at Christie's.