Taipei’s Richest Families Choose to Remain under the Radar

In an attempt to attract prospective buyers for a Mark Rothko piece worth $50 million, Sotheby’s chose to exhibit the painting in one of Asia’s richest cities, Taipei. According to Bloomberg, the auction house favoured Taiwan’s capital instead of its regional branch in Hong Kong and other markets including Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore.

Fubon Financial Holding Co. co-Head says that Taiwan’s rich are not showy, a trait which they learned from the Japanese and Chinese. Moreover, clients of these ultra-rich individuals ‘never fly business class,’ further indicating the modesty exhibited by Taiwan’s wealthy. They enjoy their riches without attracting attention, through VIP malls and using generic carrying bags for high-end purchases.

Taiwan over China

Sotheby’s Asia chairman Patti Wong says that the Taiwanese market is valuable to the auction house as it is one of the places ‘where the buyers are.’ Taiwan has been amassing riches since the 1950s. In fact, Knight Frank’s 2019 Wealth report reveals that Taipei snags the 8th position in the international list of cities with the highest number of people with extremely high net worth. The report says that Taipei is home to 1,519 individuals who are worth a minimum of $30 million. Moreover, the report forecasts that the city will have 1,864 ultra-rich individuals in 2023.

Elaborating the source of Taiwan’s wealth, Bloomberg says that it flourished in the manufacturing and exportation sectors in the 1970s. It has shifted to electronics come the 1980s, delving into the manufacture of components and chips. Some of the most known companies that emerged from Taiwan include Acer Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. A good number of Taiwanese companies moved to China as the country allowed foreign investments.

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s is set to auction the $50 million-masterpiece in New York.