Wong Kar-wai to auction Tony Leung NFT, Leslie Cheung jacket at Sotheby’s sale

Legendary Hong Kong film director, Wong Kar-wai, collaborates with Sotheby’s in offering his first-ever NFT offering: In The Mood For Love – Day One

If you are a hardcore fan of Tony Leung – who recently blew audiences away in his role as Wenwu in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) – it is impossible not to know some of the most iconic Wong Kar-wai films he starred in. Happy Together (1997), In The Mood For Love (2000) and The Grandmaster (2013) are some of the most memorable films starring Leung. They are also oeuvres by one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated film directors, Wong Kar-wai – who is the first Chinese to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

In The Mood For Love

To celebrate Jet Tone Films’ 30th anniversary – Wong’s production company, the director has partnered up with Sotheby’s to unveil Wong’s first non-fungible token (NFT) creation: In The Mood For Love – Day One

The piece is edited from never-before-seen footage shot on the first production day of the film. NFT short film contains clips starring Leung and Maggie Cheung as completely different characters from their iconic lover roles in the moving picture. 

Remembering the start of this filming project, Wong says, “The first day of every film production is like the first date with your dream lover – it is filled with fright and delight, like skating on thin ice. An arrow never returns to its bow; twenty years on, this arrow is still soaring.”

The original film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and subsequently won the Grand Technical Prize. Leung took home the Best Actor award for it – the first Hong Kong actor to win this acclaim. 

This unique artwork is the first Asian film NFT ever offered in international auction houses and will be presented at Sotheby’s Modern Art Evening Sale on 9 October.

WKW In the Mood for Love – Day One Teaser. Photo: Jet Tone Films

See also: Style notes from Wong Kar-wai

Heartbreak Tango

The auction will also bring to the public the leather jacket worn by Hong Kong’s beloved (late) actor Leslie Cheung. Highlighted as Heartbreak Tango – Yellow Jacket, the piece was worn by Cheung on the set of Happy Together, which won director Wong the accolade of Best Director at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. The leather jacket was preserved in the Jet Tone Archive since the release of the film 25 years ago and is still in excellent condition. 

“The first time Leslie put on his yellow leather jacket was during our first fitting in Buenos Aires,” Wong remembers. “I was there standing behind him when he checked himself in front of the mirror. It was his habit before facing the audience because he always wanted to offer his best look.”

Happy Together tells the story of a male couple living in Argentina with Cheung assuming the role of Ho Po-Wing, a character that is ‘solitude’ personified. Wong says, “A few weeks later [of filming], the silhouette of Ho Po-Wing’s back swayed undecidedly into the empty concourse at a train station in Buenos Aires. In one shot, Ho Po-Wing clutched his jacket to his chest, like he was warming himself in the cold night of the Argentinian winter. Behind the monitor, the shot looked like a solo tango. That night, his partner was the yellow jacket. I have always kept this yellow jacket because it symbolises a memorable presence: tenderness, rebellion and solitude.”

Portrait of Wong Kar-wai. Photo: Jet Tone Films

To further mark WKW x Jet Tone Films 30th Anniversary, another 30 collectables curated from the Jet Tone Films Archive will be offered up for auction on 10 October. Handpicked by Wong, these include props, costumes, posters, photographs and box sets – each with a certificate signed by Wong. 

Further details will become available on Sotheby’s website. 

See also: Things to do in Hong Kong this September

In this Story: #art & design