A PHOTO OF her father, Manfred, smiles down on Nicole Schoeni as she sits in the office he used to occupy. 'I love that photo of him,' she says. 'He looks so happy there.' After Manfred Schoeni's murder in the Philippines in May, his daughter has taken over the running of his businesses, which include galleries on Old Bailey Street and Hollywood Road, an outlet in Bangkok and an office in Beijing. Only 23 years old, she has big shoes to fill. Manfred Schoeni began his art business in the early 1990s and built a reputation as a charismatic dealer, specialising in neo-realist, postmodern and satirical works, mostly from Chinese artists. 'It's quite a lot to live up to,' Schoeni says, describing her father as her idol. 'But I think I'm a lot like my dad. I'm confident enough to step into his shoes, but I'll do it in my own way.' She says she's developed her own approach over the past 10 years, having accompanied her father on trips to China to meet the artists who constitute the main body of the Schoeni business. 'The artists all know me and knew that I was going to be continuing his work,' she says. 'So, despite what happened to him, it's been very easy for me to step in.' To reassure the artists that she'd be continuing the business, Schoeni and her mother visited Beijing within weeks of Manfred's death. Her next trip to the mainland will be to scout for new talent to add to her father's already noteworthy list. She plans to develop the gallery's focus on Chinese art. 'For me, that's one of the most important tasks we have: to find new artists and promote them and give them more exposure. Chinese art has always been my passion,' she says. 'Dad started to be much more diverse near the end, but I think I'm going to stick to Chinese art.' Schoeni has spent the past four years studying Chinese and economics at the University of London, but left just before graduation because of her father's sudden death. She says her ability to speak Putonghua is a distinct advantage she has over her Swiss-born father. 'My dad had translators, of course, and if the translator translated wrong, he would always be able to tell. He just had a feeling. But I think for me, we now have a closer relationship with the artists.' Schoeni says she plans to re-open the gallery in Beijing, 'hopefully in a few years, when the time is right. I think the market in China still needs to develop.' She expects her choices of artists will be more daring than her father's. 'We have very similar tastes, but mine is slightly different because of the generation gap,' she says. Schoeni also hopes to make the family business more international, strengthening the nucleus of the two Hong Kong galleries and sending more exhibitions to overseas galleries and museums. One is planned for Germany next year, with artists Wang Yidong and Zhang Linhai. Schoeni is still developing her own ideas, but has high hopes for London. Manfred visited the city in February, just before his death,to assess the market for Chinese art and the possibilities of exhibiting there. Schoeni plans to continue his explorations. 'I think London doesn't have enough representation of Chinese art,' she says. 'I'm going to give myself some time, but eventually I'd like to continue what my father started.' To celebrate Manfred's life and work, the gallery will host an exhibition, My Father's Artists, in September. It will feature the works of 42 artists, and will include some pieces that were created only after they heard of his death. 'Despite the tragedy, we try to stay positive,' Schoeni says. 'And that's what the exhibition should represent. I don't want people to remember him by his death, but by his paintings.'