Being one of the leading auction houses in the industry, Sotheby's has distinguished itself from others by taking forward-looking and innovative approaches, appealing to the emerging young collecting community on top of its traditional clientele. Its previous two sales, one with street fashion master NIGO and the other one with Asian pop icon T.O.P, made a splash in social media worldwide. Such phenomenal success can be attributed to the innovative curatorial approach by Yuki Terase, the newly-appointed Sotheby's Head of Contemporary Art, Asia, based in Hong Kong.
Yuki Terase received a master's degree from Hitotsubashi University. She worked for Morgan Stanley as a member of its Mergers and Acquisition advisory team in Tokyo before joining Sotheby's in 2011. She has spearheaded a number of white-glove sales, including: Full Circle: Yoshihara Jiro Collection, Brushwork – From Asia to the World, Brushwork II – All the World’s a Stage, and Yamaguchi Takeo – Composing Monochrome, as well as the S|2 exhibition SHASHIN! Japanese Photography Then/Now.
In 2014, NIGO® Only Lives Twice, a sale offering collectibles from Japanese cult designer NIGO, achieved white-glove sale with total of nearly HK$35m.
In 2016, #TTTOP, a special contemporary art evening sale guest-curated by Asian pop icon T.O.P, generated strong interest in both traditional and young collectors. It realized a total of US$17.4m, greatly exceeding its pre-sale estimate.
Under the guidance of Terase, Sotheby’s Japanese clients had a significant impact on the global auction market, best illustrated in the New York sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled in May 2017, which sold to Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa for a record-breaking price of US$110.5 million.
According to the statement, Terase will be "expanding our Western Contemporary art activity within Asia" in her new role. Given its gloomy economy in recent years, Japan is far from being a major Asian market in the auction industry. Let's see if Terase can beef up the company's effort on Asian expansion.