In another sign of the Asian art market’s rising prominence, the London-based auction house Bonhams has tapped former Christie’s specialist Marcello Kwan to serve as its head of modern and contemporary art in Asia. Kwan will lead a regional group of specialists and work with the global team to broaden sales offerings and build out a curatorial program for Bonhams in Hong Kong.
From 2014 to 2020, Kwan served as vice president and head of Contemporary Asian art sales at Christie’s in Hong Kong, with a focus on client development in China and managing a private selling exhibition series titled “COLLECT THEM ALL!” Prior to joining Christie’s in 2011, Kwan spent a decade at Hong Kong’s Hanart TZ Gallery.
Bonhams has also tapped Cindy Lim to serve as a senior specialist and head of sales in Hong Kong, reporting to Kwan. Prior to joining Bonhams, Lim served as director of marketing and sales at Tang Contemporary Art in Hong Kong and as a contemporary art specialist at Christie’s.
In a statement, Bonhams global head of postwar and contemporary art Ralph Taylor said Kwan “has a stellar reputation in the Asian market with long-established relationships with clients.” He also called the appointment of Kwan and Lim “undoubtedly a major step” for the auction house’s development in Asia.
The move follows an increased focus on Asia at larger auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips in the past year. In January, Phillips reported $152 million (HKD 1.18 billion) in sales across the region in 2020, marking a 24-percent increase from the 2019 figure of $123.2 million (HKD 955 million). In March, Christie’s sold a $41.7 million Basquiat in a single-lot Hong Kong sale to a collector in Asia, making it the second-most expensive lot by a Western artist to sell at auction in the region. Most recently, Sotheby’s tapped London contemporary specialist Alex Branczik to head its Asia headquarters in Hong Kong following the departure of longtime rainmaker in the city, Yuki Terase.