Artinfo: Spink CEO Olivier Stocker Returns to Hong Kong

Artinfo: Spink CEO Olivier Stocker Returns to Hong Kong Sep 27 2013

Published on Blouin Artinfo.

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London-based dealer and auctioneer Spink & Son announced that their chairman and CEO, Olivier Stocker will be relocating permanently to Hong Kong.

The move marks a leap of faith in the performance of the Asia market. Spink is headquartered in London but holds more than 70 auctions a year around the globe. Stocker, who has been chairman and CEO since 2005, previously lived and worked in Hong Kong and Singapore for more than a decade, predating his time at Spink. As one of the most experienced auctioneers at the company, Stocker was also involved in the 2011 acquisitions of philatelic auction house Phila China, as well as wine auction business Oeno China. With Spink's rapidly expanding connections to China, Stocker says, "All staff and clients were initially surprise by my move. In the same breath they recognized it is extremely logical taking into account our push for the best global footprint in the world of collectables."

Spink has been holding auctions in Hong Kong since 1986, specializing in stamps, coins, banknotes, bonds and shares certificates, as well as wines. This past August, Spink China sold the highly praised Nicholas Rhodes Tibetan coin collection in Hong Kong, in which one of the coins was sold for three times its low pre-sale estimate, realising HK$384,000 (US$49,200).

BLOUIN ARTINFO caught up with Stocker who was busy relocating his family to Hong Kong while he commutes to and from London. The CEO tells us about the future offerings at Spink China and staying competitive in the wine market.

Is Spink gearing up to hold auctions in the mainland?
It is always under review, things are changing as we speak, but no immediate plans. Let me enjoy Hong Kong for a few weeks!

So why Hong Kong again, and why now?

Hong Kong has a unique buzz. Things have changed from my last stay in Hong Kong 25 years ago, but the buzz is the same. Although we hold auctions presents sales in London, New York, Lugano, Singapore all over the world, Hong Kong has the Greater China edge. Having said that Singapore and the ASEAN region has some formidable collectors too. Asian clients are becoming more important, accounting for a third of our global business, but it is our fastest growing third.

Are you putting all your eggs in the China basket, so to speak? Is there a danger in that?

Out of 100 or so people we employ globally, we are six in Hong Kong for now, so it is still small, but we have put a rather large egg in that half dozen!

How much has the auction market in Asia changed since you were at Spink?

We have been doing auctions in Hong Kong since 1986. It has grown but that is not a discovery for us. Clients are incredibly sophisticated, whilst many still have not caught up with that aspect of the market.

Can you give us a taste of what's to come from Spink in Asia?

There will be a lot of sales held in Hong Kong. We will probably start with a small one with Bruce Lee material - I am a fan.

More seriously, our smaller categories such as banknotes, bonds, and shares, autographs and wines will continue to outperform.

Now that you have acquired Oeno China, how will you compete with the other wine auction giants in the market?

The wine market has some formidable players. We basically now source from our collectors and sell to them so we avoid any provenance issue. Auctions are smaller but we like to think more attractive, with lifestyle offerings such as invitations to chateaux for buyers of lots, with dinners and overnight stays. In the last auction we had special invites at La Lagune, Jaboulet, Pavie and more. All the wine we sell are ready to drink after letting them rest for a short while after purchase.

Click here for more information on Spink Chairman and CEO Olivier D. Stocker