The South China Morning Post reports that Christie’s is consolidating its team in Asia during a downturn in the hopes of having a better position in the market when it rebounds.
Rebecca Wei is now the head of Asia, including China, where she hopes to be able to keep expanding as the region adds more departments to reach Asia’s growing base of affluent buyers:
The Shanghai sales were headed by Cai Jinqing, who joined Christie’s as managing director, China, at the same time Wei joined as general manager, Asia. Both are mainland Chinese with successful careers outside the art world. Cai was a partner at public relations company Brunswick, and Wei was a partner at consultancy McKinsey & Company.
Wei’s latest promotion has prompted speculation about Cai’s future role at Christie’s, and whether merging the Shanghai and Hong Kong teams will lead to cuts.
Wei rejects the notion, saying, “We are leveraging the huge back office in Hong Kong. We have close to 45 people in Beijing and Shanghai, which is quite sizeable compared to other international auction houses. Here we have about 200 people and all the department heads are here. Under one leadership team, it will become much more efficient.”
Cai, who becomes chairman, China, remains part of the new Asia leadership team, Wei says.
“She knows China inside out. I am from [China], too, but I haven’t been managing the [China] business for the past three years. So she’s a great sounding board for me. We work as a team,” Wei explains.
Christie’s is about to open a new office and gallery space In Beijing. With Hong Kong also having just opened a new gallery space, Wei says Christie’s clearly thinks that Asian clients, who contribute 25 to 30 per cent of global sales, are as important as ever.
Hong Kong auctions a test for Rebecca Wei, Christie’s new president of Asia (South China Morning Post)