Former Auction House Power Players Launch New Firm with a Focus on Asia’s Growing Market

Three auction veterans from Sotheby’s are launching a new art advisory firm that will focus on the rising market in Asia. Amy Cappellazzo and Yuki Terase are joining forces to start the advisory firm. The company, Art Intelligence Global (AIG), will operate internationally between Hong Kong and New York. The two founders will advise on transactions and provide expertise on the global art market.

Adam Chinn, Sotheby’s former chief operating officer and cofounder of online private sales platform Live Art, is also a partner with the firm and will oversee business and legal operations.

Terase, who was formerly Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Asia, will head the firm’s Hong Kong headquarters, which will include an exhibition space. Cappellazzo and Chinn will run the New York space at the former Pace/MacGill Gallery location in Midtown, with plans to open their U.S. venue in early 2022.

Cappellazzo told the New York Times that the firm is planning to tap the Asian art market’s rise. According to Cappellazzo, although a collector base is already well-established in the U.S., another powerful one collectors is still being formed in Asia. The Hong Kong market has already outpaced Europe as the second-largest art market next to the United States—and is expected to grow even more in the years to come. “When you get a whole crop of new collectors they’re much more voracious because they’re starting to build something,” she said.

In June, Cappellazzo departed her role at Sotheby’s as chairman. She had joined Sotheby’s after the house acquired her advisory firm, Art Agency, Partners, which she founded with Allan Schwartzman and Chinn in 2016. Prior to that, Cappellazzo was the longtime chairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s.

One month later, Terase left after nearly a decade with Sotheby’s. Under Terase, Sotheby’s Asia division expanded sales offerings to include more Western art. The move paid off. This past June, its Hong Kong contemporary art evening auction—with nearly half its lots by Western Artists—brought in $102 million, one of the highest sale totals the house has ever made in one auction in the territory.

Terase distinguished herself from her peers by educating a class of up-and-coming buyers about conceptual works that are considered nontraditional offerings at auction houses. But she also displayed a knack for connecting with Asia’s top collectors, with figures like Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and Taiwanese musician Jay Chou in her rolodex. She also helped sell blue-chip lots, auctioning a Gerhard Richter painting owned by cosmetic mogul Ronald Perelman for $28 million this past summer. That painting is now the most expensive work by a Western artist ever sold at auction in Asia.

Executives at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips have closely watched Terase’s progress in Asia, and have likewise begun placing a greater emphasis on the rising the continent’s art market. “Asia is our highest growth region at Sotheby’s,” said Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart in a statement this past June. Last week, Sotheby’s Hong Kong modern and contemporary sale series totaled $185 million, resulting in rise of 35 percent in sales over the 2020 total of $600 million. And, in a possible move to woo Asian collectors, all three houses have begun making their London and New York evening sales less Eurocentric and pushed up the timing of those auctions, putting them closer to when buyers in locales like Hong Kong will be active.

Signs of the Asian market’s growth were could also be seen last year at Phillips, which collaborated with the Chinese auction house Poly Auction and brought its modern and contemporary art sales to new highs. Last spring, Phillips made $122 million across four consecutive white glove modern and contemporary art sales in Hong Kong and Beijing—a 121 percent increase over the previous year, marking the highest season total ever for the house in Asia. Meanwhile, Christie’s said that in the first half of 2021, Asian buyers accounted for $1.04 billion of the $3.5 billion in sales it had made.

Source: ARTNews / Angelica Villa