Vinci Chang, Rainmaker of Asian Modern Art Market, Leaves Sotheby's

Vinci Chang, Head of Department – Modern Art, Asia at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, contributed much to the success of works that set astonishing auction records for renowned artists like Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Sanyu and Yun Gee. 

Today, Sotheby's announced that Chang is going to leave the auction house and step down as Head of Modern Asian Art, passing the reigns to Felix Kwok, who currently is the Head Modern Asia Art Sales at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. 

Vinci Chang has decided to leave Sotheby’s 

Felix Kwok will take Chang’s place as the Head of Modern Asian Art Department 

Vinci Chang is undoubtedly a trained professional in the auction industry. After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University, Chang joined Christie’s Taipei in 1997. She was then promoted to the position of Specialist in the 20th Century Chinese Art Department. In 2006, Chang arrived at Christie’s Hong Kong as the Head of the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Department. 

Chang left Christie’s in 2012. The media thought highly of Chang and greatly praised her for the work she has done during the 15 years at the auction house. 

Vinci Chang acquired the top lot of Sotheby’s Modern Art Evening Sale yesterday

After leaving Christie’s Chang set up an art consulting company in Hong Kong, providing art restoration and storage services to collectors in the region. Right when the art world thought that Chang would leave the auction industry for good, she returned to the industry by joining Sotheby’s as a consultant and is responsible for business and client development in Asia with a special focus on 20th Century Chinese Art and Contemporary Asian Art.

At that time, Sotheby’s CEO Kevin Ching said, ““[Chang] brings with her enormous expertise and experience in the art and auction business, as well as a network of key collectors and galleries worldwide.  I am delighted to welcome Vinci to Sotheby’s.” 

With her expertise and professionalism, Chang continued to make positive impressions on not only the media but also various sectors across the art industry. 

Juin-Octobre 1985- the largest Zao Wou-Ki in history

Sotheby’s officially appointed Vinci Chang Head of the 20th Chinese Art Department in 2014 (the Contemporary Asian Art Department now). Ever since then, she has been almost indispensable to the success of Hong Kong Sotheby’s Modern Art sales. Various auction records were set in sales that Chang was in charge of and the following are some of the most memorable ones. 

2017|Wheels: Industrial New York, Zhu Yun Gee’s work for the re-opening of MoMA which sold for HK$105m (US$13.5m). It is the first work of Zhu’s which sold for over HK$100m

2018|Largest Zao Wou-Ki in history, Juin-Octobre 1985, selling for HK$510m (US$65.8m) and setting the record for the most expensive Asian oil painting in auction. It pushed the art market’s “Wou-Ki fever” to a new high. 

2019|Sanyu’s Nu fetched HK$197m (US$25.4m) and broke the artist’s auction record, transforming the art world into the “world of Sanyu”

2020|Chu Teh-Chun’s only pentaptych work Les éléments confédérés achieved HK$113m (US$14.5m). It is the first work of Chu’s which fetched over HK$100m.

Sanyu Nu

Last night (5 Oct), Sotheby’s Modern Art Evening Sale took place, with Sanyu’s flower painting, nude study and Wu Guanzhong’s oil painting selling for over HK$100m. Lalan and Li Huayi’s new auction records were set in the sale as well. The sale totalled HK$754m and can be seen as Chang’s last performance before saying goodbye to the auction house. 

For more details, please see Sanyu's Flower Painting Sold For US$24m at Sotheby's Hong Kong Sale, 40 Times Its Value 16 Years Ago

During her time at Sotheby’s, other than her normal duties, Chang also put much effort into collaborating with designers in making souvenirs inspired by her favourite lots of the sale season, sharing her love for art with different people in the art world. 

Souvenirs Vinci Chang made for Sanyu’s Quatre nus

Many people are curious about Chang’s future plans. But based on contract regulations in the auction industry, it is unlikely that Chang will make a comeback for at least a year. What is certain is that different companies in the art world are hoping to make her part of their team. 

Felix Kwok is no stranger to those who follow art news closely

Vinci Chang’s successor Felix Kwok is no stranger to those who follow art news closely. Kwok completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Hong Kong in 2008 with a major in Chinese History and Chinese Literature. Prior to Sotheby’s, he was with an international 4As advertising agency and the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2012, he joined Sotheby’s and became Head Modern Asia Art Sales in merely 7 years.

His achievements, as listed on Sotheby’s website, are as follows:

  • creating multiple auction records for Asian masters including Zao Wou-Ki, Wu Guanzhong, Sanyu, Chu Teh-Chun and Tsuguharu Foujita

  • pioneering the Asian market with works of the likes of Picasso, Kandinsky, Bernard Buffet and Georges Mathieu

  • curated various evening sale features including Movimento Punto, Postwar Asian Art, Asian Spirit: A Global Mission, Modern Rangers and Modern Vision, setting a new professional auction standard for Modern Asian Art and garnering tremendous response from both the academia and the market since 2017

  • curated the “Hsiao Chin – Infinite Universe” selling exhibition at Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery, further strengthening the synergy between the primary and secondary art markets in 2019

Opening of  “Hsiao Chin – Infinite Universe” selling exhibition; artist Hsiao Chin (middle), Felix Kwok (right)

Apart from his current role, Kwok is also a Sotheby’s auctioneer, and a regular speaker on modern art and the business of auction at major educational institutions and organisations including the University of Hong Kong, Beijing Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Hong Kong Tsz Shan Monastery.

Other than that, Kwok also took up the job of being the host of the mandarin preview video of Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s Autumn sale while Nathan Drahi (Commercial Officer of Sotheby’s Hong Kong), son of Sotheby’s owner Patrick Drahi, was responsible for the English version. Last month, Kwok was invited by HSBC Private Bank to interview sculptor Ren Zhe on an online forum. Kwok has undeniably done a great deal for the auction house.

Kwok took up the job of being the host of the mandarin preview video of Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s Autumn sale

Kwok’s future in the auction industry is bound to be limitless. Yet, being Head of Modern Art, Asia at Sotheby’s Hong Kong is no less difficult than his current job. 

The Asian Contemporary Art market blossomed initially in Taiwan where many experienced collectors and galleries were located. It still plays a crucial role in the development of the sector nowadays. Therefore, most department heads and experts of various auction houses in Hong Kong come from Taiwan, including Vinci Chang, Christie’s Eric Chang, Evelyn Lin, China Guardian’s Vita Chen, Poly Auction’s Lin Ya-Wei and Phillip’s Lihua Tung. Felix Kwok can be seen as the only one who is from Hong Kong. 

Besides, the records that Vinci Chang has set are difficult to surpass. 

All eyes will be on the upcoming Spring Sales in Hong Kong which will be the first sale season orchestrated by Felix Kwok. 

The following is official statement from Sotheby's: 

Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, comments: “During her distinguished six years with Sotheby’s, Vinci has led the phenomenal growth of the department along with her team of specialists, achieving multiple auction records and exemplary results for important artists throughout the history of modern art from Zao Wou-Ki, Sanyu to Chu Teh-Chun, repeatedly setting new benchmarks for this market primed for growth. I thank Vinci for her immeasurable contributions to the Company and wish her well in her new endeavour.”

Vinci Chang, comments: “I want to thank my colleagues in Asia and internationally for their contribution during my time at Sotheby’s. I wish everyone all the best.”

Kevin Ching continues: “I am pleased to welcome Felix to his new role, who has been an integral part of the Modern Art team and understands our business inside-out. His extensive market experience and expertise will be invaluable, and I am confident Felix will further strengthen Sotheby’s leadership in the field with the full support of our team in Asia and around the world.”