Rebecca Wei is leaving her position as chairman of Christie’s Asia, just eight months after her promotion to the role, and after she shared a post on Instagram post on Tuesday with a late Picasso from a modern and Impressionist sale and this message: “And my last bid and bought at Christie’s #picasso #london #2019 #june #timetosaygoodbye to #christies.”
Wei joined the 250-year-old auction house as Christie’s Asia general manager in 2012, after a decade as a management consultant at the elite firm McKinsey & Company. She was subsequently elevated to president, a position she held until December 2018, when she assumed her role as chairman. Her current decision to resign came as a surprise, though some at the auction house speculated that her promotion was not a great fit given that it moved her further away from involvement with sales and clients.
No reason for her resignation was provided in a statement from Christie’s, but it might have something to do with Christie’s sliding results in Hong Kong—a drop from $399 milion in the spring of 2018 to $327 million in spring of 2019, marking an 18-percent contraction in a single year. During that same time period, arch-rival Sotheby’s reported a slight increase in sales results in Hong Kong.
Still, Wei was someone known to have her finger on the pulse of mainland Chinese top collectors, including Liu Yiqian’s 2015 purchase of Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couche for $170 million and the more recent sale of Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et Fruits from S.I. Newhouse’s collection for $59.3 million to a buyer from the mainland this past May.
In the statement issued by Christie’s noting a “new professional challenge” for Wei in 2020, she said, “I am immensely proud of the growth that has been achieved during my time with Christie’s, in regional sales as well as Asian contribution to Christie’s global revenue.” Despite the contraction of this market over the past year, she concluded, “We are well positioned to further expand and serve collectors in the region in the years ahead.”