Sotheby’s is targeting South Korea and Thailand. The company has hired new field teams in both countries as part of an ambitious expansion across Asia.
The house also plans to open a new mainland China headquarters in Shanghai in early 2023, marking the 50th anniversary of its presence in Asia. The new Shanghai headquarters, which includes exhibition spaces and offices, will be adjacent to the Suzhou River.
As Hong Kong remains Asia’s premier auction hub and mainland China is too big a market to ignore, Sotheby’s is looking to diversify its business and cultivate a new generation of Asian collectors. In recent months, he has organized a live auction in Singapore for the first time in 15 years, held the first non-sale exhibition in Vietnam and opened a new office in Tokyo.
Now the company is hiring Jane Yoon as General Manager, South Korea, Artnet News has learned. Yoon, who has 23 years of experience in the art world in New York, Korea and China, will open a new Sotheby’s office in Seoul. After working with Art Basel and Christie’s in Hong Kong, she recently joined Phillips in 2017 to open her office in Seoul.
South Korea has already demonstrated its strength as a dynamic market. Deep pockets Young and seasoned collectors were there Art Basel in June as well as the glitzy September launch of Friesland Seoul. The Korean art market reached 532.9 billion won ($410.2 million) in the first half of 2022, and is on course to break last year’s record of 915.7 billion won ( $682.8 million), according to the Korea Arts Management Service.
Sotheby’s own data also helps explain the move. The auction house said it has seen an almost 50% year-over-year increase in the number of new bidders and millennial collectors from Korea. Contemporary art and luxury categories are among their main areas of focus, Sotheby’s noted.
Meanwhile, Sotheby’s is also expanding in Thailand, where spending jumped by two-thirds between 2017 and 2021. Bangkok-based Kullachat (“Apple”) Charnsethukul, who comes from a background in the luxury industry, was appointed head of Sotheby’s Thailand, succeeding Wannida Saetieo, who will assume an advisory role. Sotheby’s said nearly 45% of Thai bidders were new in 2021 and more than a quarter of local bidders in 2022 were under 40.
Despite the uncertainties raised by China’s pursuit zero covid policy, Sotheby’s also maintains its confidence in the continental market, which was the second largest art market after the United States in 2021 with a 20% share. Sotheby’s previously appointed Jean Qian as Managing Director, China. The new Shanghai headquarters is expected to continue cultivating aspiring collectors in the country with on-site events and local auctions.
“2023 will be a pivotal year in Sotheby’s history as we celebrate 50 years in Asia. The opening of our new headquarters in Shanghai marks the development of our ambition for continued expansion in the region and, above all, our commitment to the future growth of Greater China,” said Nathan Drahi, Managing Director of Sotheby’s Asia.
Meanwhile, the auction house is bolstering its wine department in Asia, bringing George Lacey from London to Hong Kong to become head of wine, Asia, and appointing Paul Wong as head of department, wine and spirits, China. .
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