Continuing the steady pace of personnel changes since French telecoms tycoon Patrick Drahi acquired Sotheby’s in 2019, the auction house has just announced an overhaul of its watches and jewellery departments in Asia.
The chairman of Jewellery and Watches for the region is Wenhao Yu, formerly of Beijing-based Poly Auction. The jewellery department will be led by Regine Ngan, while the watch department promoted from within with Joey Luk being elevated to the top job.
The trio will report to Josh Pullan, who was appointed Head of Global Luxury Division just last year after almost a decade as a manager in Sotheby’s digital and e-commerce departments, which no doubt explains Sotheby’s volume of online-only auctions.
A veteran of watch auctions despite her relative youth, Ms Luk was most recently Head of Sale, having been recruited to Sotheby’s from Phillips in 2018. Ms Luk succeeds Sam Hines who will “take on an advisory role for Sotheby’s worldwide Watches sales efforts”.
Mr Hines led Sotheby’s to a record year in 2021, where watch auctions totalled over US$150 million. Sotheby’s also claimed the title of most expensive wristwatch sold at auction in 2021 with the Patek Philippe ref. 1518 “pink on pink” once belonging to an Egyptian prince that sold for US$9.57 million (pictured at top). He will be leaving Sotheby’s with a bang – his closing act will be a single-owner sale of 41 Patek Philippe wristwatches led by a ref. 2499 in pink gold, which will take place in April.
The watch department achieved its banner year with both traditional, physical auctions as well as some three dozen online sales, making it one of the most prolific watch auctioneers in e-commerce. Unsurprisingly, industry chatter has it that Mr Hines will eventually join an online-only watch auctioneer.
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