On April 1st, Sotheby’s Hong Kong was filled with millennials, many in hoodies, who bought about $28 million dollars worth of KAWS’ art. The most astonishing purchase of the April 1st auction was THE KAWS ALBUM, a 40 x 40 inch painting commissioned by Japanese fashion designer, NIGO, in 2005.
THE KAWS ALBUM is a parody of the Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and The Simpsons. THE KAWS ALBUM was estimated at $760,000–$1 million, and sold for $14.8 million, about fifteen times above estimate, setting a record for KAWS. The buyer was “unidentified”, but there was speculation the it was Justin Bieber who made the final high bid. Bieber is a big fan of both KAWS and The Simpsons. He owns other KAWS work, has an XX tattoo on his arm and has made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons. Bieber also ‘hinted’ on Instagram that he had made the purchase.
Each of the nearly two dozen of KAWS items, from NIGO’s collection, went for at least twice the highest Sotheby’s estimate. The Sotheby’s auction coincided with Art Basel Hong Kong, which hosted about 88,000 visitors. A highlight of the event was Holiday, KAWS’ 121-foot inflatable sculpture that floated in Victoria Harbour during Art Basel week.
Kaws Honored at the New York Academy of Art
Brian Donnelly left his home town of Jersey City, New Jersey to study at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in Manhattan. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration in 1996. When he wasn’t working as an animator for Disney’s Jumbo Pictures he was painting graffiti on the city streets, tagging his work as KAWS, four letters that he thought looked good together.
This month, Donnelly was honored at the New York Academy of Art’s annual Tribeca Ball, a fundraiser to help support the school’s students. Brook Shields, Naomi Watts and other celebs helped to celebrate Donnelly’s contributions to the arts and to the Academy.
New York Academy of Art president, David Kratz, presented Donnelly with an honorary doctorate degree. “He went to art school and won’t say the name,” Kratz joked, “but the initials are S.V.A.”
KAWS Work at the Surovek Gallery
We are thrilled to offer The News, a complete set of nine silkscreens, featuring the vivid colors and iconic symbols that distinguish KAWS work. Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of KAWS, or any of the other fine art work, available at Surovek Gallery.
Annie Armstrong. $14.7 M. KAWS Painting Smashes Auction Record in Hong Kong. ArtNews. April 10, 2019.
Ann Binlot. From A Decadent LACMA X UCCA Party To A $14.8 Million Kaws: The Highlights Of Hong Kong Art Week. April 5, 2019.
Caroline Goldstein. From Hong Kong’s KAWS for Commotion to the Death of Agnès Varda: The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week. artnetnews. March 29, 2019.
Lilah Ramzi. A Great KAWS: The Artist Is Honored at the Academy of Art’s Tribeca Ball. Vogue. April 13, 2019.