Press Release

Sotheby's New Shanghai Space Now Open

Hong Kong
Hot on the Heels of Strongest Participation of Mainland Chinese Bidders in Three Years at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auctions, as Border Reopens

Shanghai Sotheby's Space

HONG KONG, 19 May 2023 – Sotheby’s today announces the opening of its new Shanghai space as the company celebrates fifty years in Asia. Reflecting Shanghai's growing arts and cultural scene, the 2,000 square-meter venue is set to become a multi-functional collecting hub for exhibitions, talks, workshops and other cultural events in the city. The space will also showcase fine art from the company’s international sales, and luxury items from its auction calendar and Buy Now platform.

Shanghai Sotheby’s Space Opening Ceremony
Left to Right: Mr. Yu Jinsheng, Secretary General of the Art Committee of the China Association of Auctioneers, Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Chairman of Asia & Worldwide Head and Chairman of Chinese Works of Art, Nathan Drahi, Managing Director, Asia, Jean Qian, Managing Director, China, Jen Hua, Deputy Chairman, Asia & Chairman, China and Mr. Ruan Cunfan, General Manager of Longsheng Land Group Co.Ltd.

Interior of the Shanghai Sotheby’s Space

The opening of Shanghai Sotheby’s Space mirrors both Shanghai’s importance as a leading hub for art and luxury collectors and, more broadly, the growth - and potential - of Mainland China as a key player in the art market. During the last major Chinese art sales staged by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, the series saw the highest number of Mainland Chinese bidders participating in three years*. Asian collectors have also made their presence felt across Sotheby’s worldwide sales in recent years, making up nearly a third of those who placed bids for US$1m+ at Sotheby’s between 2018 and 2022**. And just this week, during Sotheby’s New York marquee evening sales, collectors in Asia were out in force, accounting for more than one-third of the Modern Evening Auction’s total sale value, acquiring works by Gustav Klimt, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet (Palmier à Bordighera), Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse (Nu au peignoir) and Edvard Munch. Collectors in Asia also bid on works by Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse (Femme assise sur un balcon) and Vilhelm Hammershøi.

Jean Qian, Managing Director, Sotheby’s, China, said “Sotheby’s Shanghai will become the meeting-point for collectors and art lovers across different communities in Mainland China. Through a diverse offering of arts and cultural activities both in-person and online, we hope to bring a broader and more in-depth collecting experience that will drive long-term development across the wider art market in China and Asia alike.”

Exterior of the Shanghai Sotheby’s Space

Localise Experience for Chinese Collectors

In addition to expanding its physical footprint and recruiting local talents, in the past 18 months, Sotheby’s remains committed to promoting greater access to remarkable objects all year round, a key aspect of which is its commitment to expanding online capabilities, particularly in Asia, with the launch of Sotheby’s Buy Now in Mainland China and a dedicated physical space within the new Shanghai Sotheby’s Space. The expansion for Sotheby’s Buy Now in Asia will see active sourcing in the region for the first time, providing new ways for collectors to buy and sell beyond the traditional auction calendar, granting 24/7, 365-day access to exceptional luxury, fine and decorative art and objects at a variety of price points, and all available for instant purchase.

In addition, collectors can also bid through Sotheby’s WeChat Mini Program – the aim being to allow for a convenient and seamless collecting experience within Mainland China. Dubbed a super app for its wide range of functions, from free text and voice messaging to social media broadcasting, gaming, and digital wallet, WeChat has 1.24 billion users globally, of which the majority are based in Mainland China. For those who are not registered on WeChat, the launch of Sotheby’s official Chinese website includes localised content and user journey designed to enhance the user experience such as a quick sign-up function via WeChat scan or mobile number.

In Spring, Sotheby’s staged Liquid Jade: Moutai, the company’s first ever online auction in Mainland China, to cater to the strong and increasing demand among collectors of Moutai in the country. More than 50 lots of rare Moutai - China’s most famous spirit - were 100% sold and the auction was a testament to Sotheby’s commitment in fostering a new collecting experience within the local community. As part of Sotheby’s investment in Mainland China to generate new, localised business and grow its clientele on the mainland, the company has obtained all the necessary licenses to carry out future initiatives, including Sotheby’s Buy Now and local auctions in any format, both for online and live.

Jean Qian, Managing Director, Sotheby’s, China during the launch event at the Shanghai Sotheby’s Space
The launch of and WeChat Mini Program to allow for a convenient and seamless collecting experience within Mainland China.

*Last month in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s Chinese art sales reached a nine year high of HK$1.64 billion / US$209 million. Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Chairman of Asia & Worldwide Head and Chairman of Chinese Works of Art, commented: “The ability for collectors to see physical pieces contributed to the success of our Chinese art sales”.

**According to Sotheby’s Insight Report, the $1m+ market experienced 20.8% growth in auction sales in 2022. Asian collectors made up nearly a third (32%) of those who placed bids for US$1m+ art at Sotheby’s between 2018 and 2022. Their buying is most prevalent in the $1m+ Chinese Traditional Paintings and Works of Art segment, although an increase in the Contemporary market can also be seen (accounting for 18% of bidders) and with 17% of bidders in the Impressionist and Modern market, between 2018 and 2022. Almost as many bidders came from Asia as North America, where the largest number are based (34%), and they outnumbered Europeans, who accounted for 29% of bidders.


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