Past Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Cocktail, Monday Evening, 07 March 2016

Speaker Series:
FRANCOIS CURIEL Chairman, Asia Pacific, Christie's

The Impact of the Rise of China, Technology and Financial Innovation on the Art Auction Industry: And How Christie’s & François Curiel Are Meeting the Challenges

18:00 Registration
18:30 Remarks, followed by Q&A
20:00 Close

The Verandah (upstairs, above street entrance level), Foreign Correspondent’s Club,
2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

Cost & Registration
Drinks (open bar) & Canapés. To register, please go online and CLICK HERE to RSVP and PAY NOW.

Early Bird Credit Card or PayPal Pre-Payment of HKD 450 if made by 23:59 (11:59 PM) Saturday 5 March. Cash Payment or Late Bird Pre-Payment or at the Door will be HKD 650. Please bring exact amount if paying in cash/at the door (no change will be provided). No refunds for no-shows or post-payment cancellations. Early Bird registration is encouraged. Questions or problems? Please contact Chapter VP Beatrice Wong at

Dress Code:
Please note FCC dress code of smart casual for the Verandah (including for men a shirt with collar). No shorts or beach shoes are accepted.


Speaker's Bio
See below

Event Details:

The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to drinks and cocktails with François Curiel, Chairman of Asia Pacific, Christie's, the world's largest art auction house (2015 revenues of USD 7.4 billion, almost 40% of the global art auction market), where he has led the Company's entry into Greater China, now the world's largest market.

When Joseph Duveen (later Baron), the famous London dealer, noted in the late 19th century that "Europe has a great deal of art and America has a great deal of money", this insight, combined with a network of servant informers and a head for wealthy family gossip, was sufficient for eventually controlling much of the world's then transatlantic art trade up through the 1930s, And for much of the 20th century, variants of this approach for the world's leading auction houses, continued.

In the past 20 years, Duveen's adage has been spun on its head. 

Spun around geographically, with Greater China replacing America as the world's most important art auction market (roughly 37% of global sales, USD 5.7 billion), and Chinese artists being among the 10 most sought after artworks. The transatlantic dominance of art is no longer, with the world's four largest art auction market cities being NYC, London, Beijing and Hong Kong (with HK being typically larger than the next four cities, Paris, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Milan, combined). 

Spun around technically, with digital finally taking off in the smartphone era that PCs couldn't achieve. Spun around financially, with third party guarantors of auction sales de-risking significant portions of the legacy high-end sales, performance-related commissions being introduced for the first time, and the rise of private sales replacing auctions themselves. Spun around in terms of art, with Old European Masters replaced by post-war and contemporary works whose artists might live anywhere. And spun around in buyer orientation, with an ever-increasing number of buyers doing so for the first time, and, with a growing "museum industry" (more new museums being opened in the past 15 years than in the previous 200 and 1 per day in Greater Asia), representing an entirely new buyer category on its own.

How has Christie's, the world's largest and among its oldest auction houses (founded in 1766), addressed these changes and challenges? How does François Curiel, who has pioneered Christie's Asia strategy, see the future?

Geographically, Christie's was the first int'l auction house to operate under its own name in China to meet the rising local competition where Poly and China Guardian are now the 3rd and 4th largest auction houses in the world. Asian buyers, today, represent 27% of all Christie's clients.  Digitally, using its "James Map" in-house data analysis system, it began to understand its customers and predictive behaviour, with, despite a highly personalized industry, global customer knowledge being shared for the first time across the firm. It launched ChristiesLive in 2006 with 30% of all auction bids now received online (20 MM clients accessing its system in 2014). In 2013, it expanded into online sales of handbags, heritage watches, jewellery and Warhol Foundation works, and recently launched an App that recommends items to clients based on their profiles and past searches and allows them to send a picture of items they may wish to sell and immediately receive a reply from a Christie's specialist. And customer profile-wise, Christie's has focused on broadening its customer base, using its digital platforms to make historically low price/low margin sales (under USD 5k) profitable that attract new clients that can grow over time, with 25% of its customers being first-timers in 2014.

And what about Christie's differences with its great rival, Sotheby's? Fined in NYC for collusion a mere 15 years ago, today, the two great auction houses have taken divergent paths. Sotheby's has gone slower on digital (including expensive failed partnerships with Amazon and then eBay), has resisted online sales, and decided to focus on higher-end customers, believing that only customers in the USD 100,000 or higher price point ever move on to the very higher ends of the market. Sotheby's is pushed by a public shareholder base while Christie's benefits from private ownership by the Pinault Family and a potentially longer-term view. Where will the next fault lines of the industry and this great rivaly occur?

The Stanford GSB Chapter of HK could not be more pleased to have François share his insights, experience and wisdom on a unique industry at a unique inflection point in its history. We hope you can join us.

Speaker's Bio: 
François Curiel is Chairman, Asia Pacific for Christies, the world’s largest auction house. 

François began his career at Christie’s in 1969 in London as a jewellry specialist, in a trajectory than then took him to Madrid, New York (where he opened Christie’s first salesroom), to Geneva and finally back to Paris in 2000 (once  the French government finally allowed foreign auction houses to operate in the country) prior to coming to Hong Kong in 2010. 

In parallel to these postings, he rose from Managing Director and Worldwide Head of Jewellery in 1989 to Chairman of Christie’s Europe in 1998 and head of Christie’s France in 2001, prior to being named President of Christie’s Asia in 2010, and, finally, Chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific in 2014, having launched Christie’s first-ever auctions in China in 2013.

Often described in the press as one of the greatest auctioneers of our time, François Curiel regularly holds the hammer for sales in Europe, Asia and America. Long-recognized as a pioneer in the industry, in 1996, he was awarded the Antwerp Diamond Career Award and in 2009, was awared Officier de la Légion d'honneur of France. From 2001 to 2009, he served at the French Minister of Justice’s request, on the French Market Auction Authority, the regulatory body overseeing the French auction system.