Disappointing Results for Long Museum’s Sale at Sotheby’s

Disappointing Results Mark Shanghai's Long Museum Thursday Sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong With Ten Works Failing to Sell.

Oct 6, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Disappointing Results for Long Museum
The Long Museum. Via Zhou Dong.


Disappointing results mark Shanghai’s Long Museum Thursday sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Overall, on offer were 39 pieces, and 10 did not find its owner. Hockney’s A Picture of a Lion was among the pieces that did not sell. Sotheby’s described the sale as worldwide, but only buyers were from 25 countries. Asian bidders made up 75% of the participants, and they purchased 7 of the top 10 lots.


Disappointing Results and High Expectations

Disappointing Results for Long Museum
Modigliani’s Paulette Jourdain sold for $34.8 million with a premium during Sotheby’s sale of works from the Long Museum.


Many people paid close attention to the purchase of Shanghai’s Long Museum collection at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The focus is on because of what it might reveal about the creative world. Also, art experts and collectors, in parallel, examine New Yorkers’ eagerness for the November auctions. They typically offer an accurate depiction of the art market. The Long Museum’s founders are Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei.


They gained notoriety by purchasing prestigious masterpieces at exorbitant prices. But the artwork they presented this time didn’t generally fetch such opulent prices. The sale fell short of the hype that frequently precedes Liu. He once spent $36 million on a priceless Chengua-era unique china mug. He did that by scanning his American Express Centurion card 24 times.


Disappointing Results for Long Museum


Many people believe him to be one of China’s top collectors after that acquisition and another of an Amedeo Modigliani painting in 2015, which cost $170 million. He earned a place on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors ranking as a result. The Sotheby’s selling announcement stunned a lot of people.

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A Significant Deaccession

Sotheby’s worldwide headquarters on York Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, via Wikimedia Commons


As ARTnews noted in August, it is extremely unusual for such well-known collectors to sell pieces from their collections at bidding. Particularly if they originate from a private organization. The motivation behind the selling was even more enigmatic. Officials at the institution did not respond. But, the auction house told ARTnews that the proceeds will go toward “initiatives and future acquisitions at the museum”.


It is making this a significant deaccession. Among the highlights of the sale were René Magritte’s Le Miroir Universel (estimated $9 million–$12 million), and A Picture of a Lion by David Hockney ($5.4 million–$7 million). Also, Modigliani’s Paulette Jourdain, which in 2015 sold at Sotheby’s for $42.8 million. It is anticipated to surpass $45 million this time around. Paulette Jourdain hammered at a full $10 million less than its forecast, selling for $34.8 million with a surcharge.




Liu and Wang are still highly active in the secondary market, especially at Sotheby’s, according to industry sources who spoke to ARTnews. However, it is unknown what Liu and Wang have in store for the Long Museum. It will be interesting to observe how they intend to strengthen and improve their holdings with this infusion of cash, regardless of whether or not they make purchases with American Express cards.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.