Art Market

Christie’s Asia chairman resigned after eight months in the role.

Benjamin Sutton
Aug 20, 2019 3:49PM, via South China Morning Post

Rebecca Wei. Photo by Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images.

Rebecca Wei quit the top job at Christie’s in Asia after just eight months in the role. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, her sudden departure as Christie’s Asia chairman came as a surprise. Wei’s resignation comes amid a slowdown in the Asian market for artworks, antiquities, and other collectibles, fueled in part by the trade war between the U.S. and China, and likely to worsen as the Trump administration’s new tariffs on art made in China come into effect on September 1st.

The latest edition of economist Clare McAndrew’s “The Art Market Report” noted a drop in the Chinese market in 2018 of 3 percent year over year; and Christie’s 2019 spring sales in Hong Kong brought in 18 percent less than the equivalent sales the year before.

Wei came to Christie’s in 2012 from management consulting company McKinsey & Company, and her first role at the auction house was general manager for Asia. She was promoted to Asia president in 2016, and at the end of 2018 she was promoted to Asia chairman when the auction house hired Francis Belin to be its new president in the region.

During her time at Christie’s, Wei nurtured relationships with major Asia collectors including Shanghai-based billionaire Liu Yiqian—who in 2015 bought an Amedeo Modigliani painting at a Christie’s sale in New York for $170.4 million—and the dealer-collector Robert Chang. In November, she was on the phone with the buyer who spent $HK 463.6 million ($US 59.2 million) on a 1,000-year-old scroll painting by Su Shi, the most expensive artwork Christie's had ever sold in Asia. According to The Value, Wei will take the rest of 2019 off before pursuing her next role in 2020.

In a statement quoted by the SCMP, Wei said:

I am immensely proud of the growth that has been achieved during my time with Christie’s, in regional sales as well as Asian contribution to Christie’s global revenue. [. . .] We are well positioned to further expand and serve collectors in the region in the years ahead.
Benjamin Sutton