The auction houses of Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips are operationalizing fascinating pro-active plans designed to increase both the breadth and depth of their auction markets.
Current Auction Environment
Geographic shifts in major fine arts auction markets are expected throughout the next 12 months. Slowdowns in Asian and now European economies in 2014, are anticipated to negatively affect sales of luxury goods which track auction market results. The Chinese government, concurrent with the Hong Kong protests, has recently put pressure on Chinese political operatives to halt exorbitant personal and gift spending. In part, this environment has fueled the three largest auction house to take bold new initiatives.
Sotheby’s West Coast Strategy
Sotheby’s, the most publicly proactive house, in September launched a $200 million traveling exhibition of fine art to develop a major new group of collectors among the U.S. west coast’s rich and famous. The collection includes Rothko’s 1951 painting “No.21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)” which could be worth as much as $50 Million. The art work is being shown at relaxed private Sotheby’s dinners. In addition, Sotheby’s has increased its Los Angeles and San Francisco staff to match the area’s growing demand. See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-09-23/sotheby-s-uses-200-million-of-art-to-woo-west-coast-rich
Christie’s Fertile Valley
Christie’s is also targeting potential new west coast collectors. Christie’s September show in the fertile Silicon Valley featured 24 works including “Girl in Mirror” by Lichtenstein. Following the show a panel of experts discussed methods for starting an art collection.
Phillips London and Beyond
Phillips auction house runs a distant third to what some term the Christie’s and Sotheby’s duopoly. Owned by the Russian based Mercury Group, Phillips opened its spectacular new London premises on October 6. Phillip’s “location, location, location” strategy to deepen it’s market, provides the largest and most convenient auction viewing space for contemporary art in London. The 30 Berkeley Square space is near world-renowned London art dealerships and a neighbor to two five star hotels frequented by wealthy collectors. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/arts/international/new-location-new-ambitions-for-phillips.html?_r=0
Phillips new high ceiling showroom with double-height windows bathes contemporary works in a superb light.
In July, Phillips hired Edward Dolman. Well known in auction circles, Mr. Dolman is a former Chairman and CEO of Christie’s. The Mercury group looks to Mr. Dolman to spur Phillip’s expansion. Mr. Dolman already has his sites set on Hong Kong. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/The-new-face-of-Phillips/35833