In Another Step Toward Market Domination, Hauser & Wirth Hires Christie’s Veteran Koji Inoue to Steer Its Postwar Division

The gallery is devoting greater resources to its secondary market business.

Koji Inoue, International Senior Director Post War & Contemporary Art. Photo: Axel Dupeux. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.

Hauser & Wirth is continuing to beef up its estates and secondary market sales division with a high-profile new hire. The mega-gallery is due to announce today that it has poached Christie’s veteran Koji Inoue to serve in the newly created role of international senior director of postwar and contemporary art. He will join the gallery in summer 2019.

Inoue has worked at Christie’s since 2008, most recently as international director of postwar and contemporary art. In his new role, he will be responsible for overseeing the transformation of Hauser & Wirth’s gallery on New York’s Upper East Side into a platform dedicated exclusively to historical exhibitions, artist’s estates, and other secondary market shows. “With Koji we want to emphasize the clear secondary market focus of the gallery on 69th Street,” Marc Payot, a partner at Hauser & Wirth, told artnet News.

The hire marks the gallery’s second appointment in a short span from Christie’s. In July, Hauser & Wirth poached former Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art specialist Liberté Nuti. Both additions are part of a strategy to expand the gallery’s presence on the secondary market, an increasingly important revenue stream. “Together with the his counterpart in London, Liberté, who is an Impressionist and Modern specialist, Koji will help us become a much stronger and more visible place for the contemporary secondary market,” Payot explained.

Another auction-house veteran, Vanessa Guo, joined the gallery from Christie’s in 2016 and now helps lead its Hong Kong operation. Taken together, the appointments mark a moment in the art market when auction houses and mega-galleries are increasingly encroaching on one another’s turf.

In a statement, Hauser & Wirth co-founder Iwan Wirth said the new additions mark a “a new phase of our business… Our vision is to collaborate even more closely with private collectors, estates, families, and public museums and foundations to identify and secure masterpieces that in turn enrich the story of art when they live together in collections.”

Since joining Christie’s as head of its evening sale in New York in 2008, Inoue rose through the ranks and served in several key roles, including head of client intelligence and strategic development and global head of private sales for his categories.

In a statement, Inoue said the chance of working for Hauser & Wirth was too good to turn down. “I was attracted to the gallery as a place where innovation is prized, and I see ahead many great opportunities to engage the full spectrum of the primary and secondary markets,” he said.

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