The trend for auction house executives to set up their own advisory services continues apace with the announcement today that former Sotheby’s rainmaker Patti Wong is launching an art advisory firm in Hong Kong.
Joining her at Patti Wong & Associates are fellow Sotheby’s veterans Daryl Wickstrom and Lisa Chow, who has been appointed the managing director of the new firm. The advisory will help guide top level Asian collectors, both seasoned and new, offering transactional expertise and collection management services to market intelligence. They will also offer support with institutional relationships.
Wong says that clients across Asia have built collections of “outstanding quality and breadth” and are now in need of the kinds of advisory services that have prevalent in the US and Europe for a number of years. “Many of the collectors we work with collect traditional Chinese art as well as blue-chip contemporary and Modern works,” says Wong, who was instrumental in transforming Hong Kong into an auction centre to rival New York or London during her 30 years at Sotheby’s. She only stepped down as the firm’s senior international chairperson at the end of 2022.
She notes how the market in Asia has changed dramatically in that time, expanding beyond the traditional categories of Chinese art, from ceramics, works of art and ink paintings into jewellery, watches and wine in the late 1990s. In 2005, Wong helped set up the highly successful division, Sotheby’s Diamonds.
The first decade of the 2000s, Wong notes, was dominated by the growing activities in Modern Chinese oils and contemporary Chinese art, while, over the past ten years, Asian collectors have become major players in the New York and London sales of Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art. “One thing we see with Asian collectors is their tremendous diversity of interests and collecting at a very high level,” she says.
Luxury goods, Wong adds, “will always be an important part of the business in Asia, and will remain an area of focus for clients with whom we work. This is consistent with Asian collecting trends generally—both in the past and in the market today.”
Patti Wong & Associates is also partnering with the London-based advisory, The Fine Art Group, which has made an investment in the new Hong Kong business. Though the two firms will operate independently, they will draw on their complementary skill sets and services for future collaborations.
“The depth of Patti’s knowledge and experience in Asia is unequalled,” The Fine Art Group’s chief executive Philip Hoffman says in a statement. “I have deep respect for her approach with clients and we share a commitment to transparency and a high level of service and creativity.”
The newly formed partnership with Patti Wong & Associates is also part of The Fine Art Group’s growing network. Last year, Hoffman’s advisory began collaborating with Schwartzman&, the New York advisory business set up by Allan Schwartzman, previously the chairperson of Sotheby’s global fine arts division.
Meanwhile, in 2021, the former Sotheby’s executives Amy Cappellazzo, Yuki Terase, and Adam Chinn founded the art advisory firm Art Intelligence Global, which also focuses on the rising market in Asia.
Of the market in Hong Kong and whether the city can maintain its status as the leading art centre in Asia, Wong says: “Hong Kong provides both an infrastructure and a tax and customs regime that is particularly well-suited to art market activity. Combined with the significant presence of all the major auction houses and many prominent dealers in the city, together with the infrastructure of warehouse, professional art handlers, restorers and art insurance coverage, Hong Kong is well-positioned to remain an important centre of the art market in Asia.”
Citing the growth in the stature of other cities with vibrant art scenes including Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai, Wong adds: “As in the rest of the world, there is certainly room for many ‘art hubs’ within the region.”