PRIVATE SALES OFFERS ACCESS TO THE GLOBAL MARKET
BARRETT WHITE, EXPERT SPECIALIST IN THE POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY DEPARTMENT AT CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK, FOCUSES HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER AND ENERGIES ON THE PRIVATE SALES SECTOR WITHIN THE AUCTION HOUSE FRAMEWORK. HE HAS PROVIDED DETAILS OF THE DECISION-MAKING CONCERNS THAT SHOULD DOMINATE THE THINKING OF THE CONSIGNOR. TODAY HE WILL UNDERLINE THE ADVANTAGES OF CONSIGNING WORKS TO THE PRIVATE SALES SECTOR OF AN AUCTION HOUSE DEPARTMENT.
I, FOR ONE, WELCOME THE OPINIONS OF A HANDFUL OF TRUSTED COLLEAGUES WHOSE INPUT HELPS ME EVALUATE THE UPSIDE AND DOWNSIDE OF A WORK THAT IS POTENTIALLY OF INTEREST TO MY CLIENT OR ONE THAT THEY MAY WISH TO SELL.
BARRETT, IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT BECOMES A MATTER OF CONCERN WHEN YOU ARE OFFERED A WORK FOR SALE, EITHER IN THE AUCTION OR THE PRIVATE SALE SECTOR?
What hurts a work more is if it is known on the market and been offered by any number of dealers and runners (go-betweens who know of a work but do not have a direct relationship to either the buyer or seller). People can be naïve about that and it is harder to overcome. We try to be extremely realistic with people in terms of pricing and positioning a work.
DO YOU AGGRESSIVELY SEEK OUT WORKS TO SELL IN THIS DEPARTMENT OR DO YOU RELY ON THE WORKS THAT ARE OFFERED TO CHRISTIE’S FOR AUCTION?
Our business is very proactive and we actively seek great works of art. Pictures also come to us through our relationships. As specialists at Christie’s, we ultimately get involved with our clients in all aspects of collecting, how they’re buying, what they’re interested in, who wants what and what’s available. While seeking advice from us, the client is often driving the process whether they are looking for a picture or looking to sell.
We offer a range of works, everything from very established artists to young contemporary and modern masters. We are geared more to blue chip work, as is auction, and we do like to transact ideally above $1 million but given high quality works of art, we do sales at all levels.
BARRETT, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT CHRISTIE’S CAN OFFER COLLECTORS WHO DECIDE TO SELL THE WORKS PRIVATELY? DO THE PRIVATE SALES REACH AS BROAD A BASE OF POTENTIAL BUYERS AS AT AUCTION? IS THE GLOBAL NETWORK ACCESSIBLE IN THE PRIVATE SALE SECTOR?
We offer the same global reach as we have with auction but can also offer incredible discretion. We put together the team we feel is best to offer the work. For example, I may have a direct relationship with the seller but specialists in various locations will be speaking with the potential buyers with whom they have a relationship.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT CLIMATE OF THE PRIVATE SALE SECTOR MARKET?
Private sales are extremely robust as is the auction market. Modern and contemporary art is highly collectible and collectors are actively seeking out the best examples. The world has emerged from difficult financial period with a desire to get good value. At auction people often go beyond what they thought they were going to spend. The process in private sales tends to be a quieter but mutually satisfying negotiation.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT PRIVATE SALES AT AN AUCTION HOUSE THAT I DIDN’T THINK TO ASK?
Christie’s has launched an on-line gallery to create a marketing platform and take advantage of many of the same aspects that the auction venue does. When a sale does not need to be highly confidential, it makes sense for as many people as possible to know it is for sale.
The art market is quickly moving from opaque to transparent and we are looking to incorporate in some instances, similar marketing strategies in the Private Sale sector that we do at auction.
BARRETT, ENORMOUS THANKS FOR YOUR COMPREHENSIVE AND ASTUTE EXPLANATION OF THE ASPECT OF PRIVATE SALES IN AN AUCTION VENUE. HOW TIMELY IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT AUCTION STATISTICS IN WHICH, AT PRESENT, THE PRIVATE SALE SECTOR OUTSELLS THE MARKET PERFORMANCE AT AUCTION.
NEXT WEEK, I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF SPEAKING WITH ALEXANDRA SCHWARTZ, A GREAT PRINT EXPERT, DIRECTOR OF PACE MASTER PRINTS, AND ORIGINALLY ON THE STAFF OF THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART. MASTER PRINTS, THAT INCLUDE WORKS BY PICASSO, MATISSE, DUBUFFET AND MIRO, FOR EXAMPLE, ARE A MAINSTAY IN THE COLLECTING WORLD. SASHA SCHWARTZ WILL EXPLORE ITS MANY ASPECTS, CONDITION, VALUE, HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND MORE.
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE YOUR QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS. IT IS A PLEASURE TO HAVE THE EXPERTISE OF THESE SPECIALISTS TO ANSWER THEM.