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Auction House Bids for Success

It may come as a surprise to learn that Kevin Ching had a well-established career in international law before he became CEO of Sotheby’s Asia in 2006. Yet, a clue to his decision to move to the art world can be seen in his long-held interest in jade. Ching has been a collector for 30 years. 

“Jade is known for its five virtues in our traditional Chinese culture – benevolence, righteousness, manners, wisdom and credit,” he said. “Although small in size, they are an embodiment of not only craftsmanship, but also Confucian ethics, as well as history and poetic sentiments.” 

In the 1980s, Ching was a partner at Johnson Stokes & Master, one of the biggest law firms in Asia. In 1993, he moved to Dickson Concepts, a distributor of luxury brands including Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, as Board Executive Director and Group Legal Counsel. 

Since taking the helm at Sotheby’s Asia he has been responsible for the company’s regional expansion, particularly in Mainland China. This strategy delivered a major success in 2012, when Sotheby’s joined with Beijing GeHua Art Company to establish Sotheby’s (Beijing) Auction Co., Ltd – the first international fine art auction house in the Mainland.

Sotheby’s was founded in London in 1744 and currently has 10 salesrooms around the world. Adapting to to new business models is one of the reasons for the company’s longevity, Ching explained.

“The auction business is no longer what it used to be 250 years ago,” he said. “In the current extremely competitive and technological age, Sotheby’s is dedicated to digital development. Our presence on social media is industry-leading, with over 1 million followers in total.”

Its BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Art collectors have also proved willing to adapt. 

“Sotheby’s online buyers spent more than US$180 million in 2017, meaning 23% of all lots sold were purchased online,” said Ching. 

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Ltd joined the Chamber in 1995 for its extensive membership and connections.

“Members of HKGCC enjoy great access to a solid and comprehensive business network, from across professional sectors to representatives on government and non-government advisory boards,” said Ching. “The fact is that enterprises these days – and Sotheby’s is no exception – work tirelessly with many professional sectors, such as shipping and logistics, legal and insurance, in order to ensure an effective and timely execution of corporate strategies.” 

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