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Guggenheim Museum to Sell Zao Wou-Ki Painting at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in March

Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled, 1958, oil on canvas.

COURTESY SOTHEBY’S

The Guggenheim Museum will deaccession a Zao Wou-Ki painting from 1958 that has been held by the New York institution for decades. In March, the painting will head to auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, where it is expected to bring in HK$60 million–HK$80 million (around $7.7 million–$10 million) at a sale of modern art. The work will be on view at the auction house’s New York location from February 5 to 10 ahead of the sale.

The untitled Zao painting features a tangle of abstract forms at the center of a grayish canvas. The work was part of the artist’s “Oracle Bone” period, in which he drew on the ancient Chinese tradition of inscribing oracles on animal bones, and it was first shown at the Kootz Gallery in New York.

Judge and Mrs. Samuel I. Rosenman bought the work from the gallery, and donated it to the Guggenheim in 1964. This marks the first time the work will hit the auction block.

A representative for the Guggenheim declined to comment on the deaccessioning. In a release, Sotheby’s said that the proceeds from the sale would go toward the museum’s art fund, which supports the acquisition of new works.

In a statement, Vinci Chang, Sotheby’s head of modern Asian art, said, “With its distinguished provenance and impeccable quality from the artist’s critical ‘Oracle Bone’ period, this masterwork will no doubt generate interest and excitement from collectors worldwide.”

The Guggenheim’s sale of the Zao painting comes just months after a new record was set for the artist. At a Sotheby’s sale in Hong Kong this past October, Zao’s 33-foot-long triptych Juin—Octobre 1985 (1985) was purchased for $65 million by a buyer who remains unidentified.

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