Sotheby’s Has Named Industry Veteran Wendy Lin as Its New Asia Chairman to Lead the Auctioneer’s Eastward Expansion

The appointment coincides with the house's ambitious plans to expand its presence in Asia ahead of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Wendy Lin, chairman of Sothebys Asia. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s has appointed Wendy Lin as its new chairman of Asia, filling a void left by international chairperson Patti Wong, who left the house at the end of last year to start her own art advisory.

The appointment comes as Sotheby’s celebrates its 50th anniversary in the region, and eyes further expansion projects in the East.

An industry professional with more than two decades of management experiences in luxury and art, Lin first joined Sotheby’s in 1997 and returned to the house to take up the role of managing director of Sotheby’s Taiwan, before being promoted to deputy chairman of Asia in 2018. Lin will be reporting to Nathan Drahi, the house’s Asia managing director (and son of auction house owner Patrick Drahi), and working alongside Nicolas Chow, co-chairman of Sotheby’s Asia.

During her time with Sotheby’s, Lin has played instrumental roles in some of the house’s major sales, including the auction debut of Sanyu’s 1963 painting Branches, which sold for HK$86.7 million ($11 million) last October, the second highest priced work sold during the autumn art sales, as well as the 2021 Hong Kong sale of a 101.38-carat pear-shaped D color flawless diamond for $12.3 million, which set the record for jewelry purchased with cryptocurrency.

Wendy Lin - The NOW NY Nov 2022 2

Wendy Lin bidding at the Now sale in New York 2022. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Lin has also helped Asian collectors to take part in overseas sales, including the ultra-contemporary-focused Now evening sale in New York, which saw Asian buyers contributing to more than half of the total sales value.

The appointment comes amid a wider recalibration of staff and ambitions at Sotheby’s Asia. Sotheby’s said that Asian collectors are spending more on average compared to their counterparts from the rest of the world, bidding 40 percent more on average per person. The house also saw a record high number of bidders under 40 years old in 2022.

The house has been advancing on its plans to expand in the region, announcing new headquarters in Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as a series of new senior appointments in China, South Korea, and Thailand.

At the same time, Sotheby’s Asia operation has seen a regime change after telecom magnate Patrick Drahi took over in 2019. Rainmakers Patti Wong, the former Asia chairman who helped to build Hong Kong into an auction hub during her 30-year career with the house, Kevin Ching, formerly the executive chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, and Yuki Terase, former head of contemporary art in Asia, have all departed over the last two years. Both Wong and Terase have each gone on to set up each of their own advisory firms.

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