On Sotheby’s conference call today, Bill Ruprecht called Sotheby’s “under-penetrated” in China. To remedy that, they’re about to opening new offices and auction facilities in Hong Kong. Previously, Sotheby’s—like Christie’s—has only rented the city’s convention center for bi-annual sales events:
“We’re opening new premises in Hong Kong in 8 weeks where we are building our capability to engage clients from Hong Kong, from greater China and from all of Southeast Asia 300+ days a year rather than 15 days a year. That’s a transformation of in terms of the level of activity, the level of products, the level of range of things we’ll have on offer to clients there on a regular basis. … We’re taking this step because we think it is really important to understand how far and how fast we can build our engagement and success through a much larger and more exciting platform rather than renting a convention center a couple of weeks a year.”
Details on the new facility won’t come out for a few more weeks but this is a big new development in the auction house battle for market share which is now no longer between Sotheby’s and Christie’s but must also include China’s big firms.