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The Gray Market: Why Christie’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ Sale Is Riskier Than It Seems (and Other Insights)

Every Monday morning, artnet News brings you The Gray Market. The column decodes important stories from the previous week—and offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the art industry in the process.

Since it’s felt like a pack of tiny demons has been tending a bonfire in my throat this weekend, here are two takes on suffering and salvation in the industry…

THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU

On Tuesday morning, Christie’s revealed the two marquee lots in its November 15 postwar and contemporary evening sale: Andy Warhol‘s Sixty Last Suppers, a monumental silkscreen homage to the Leonardo masterwork carrying an estimate of $50 million, and da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, billed by Christie’s as the only painting by the Renaissance virtuoso still in private hands—and staked to an estimate of $100 million as a result. (Note: Both works have already been guaranteed by third parties.)

I could write at least three posts on the dynamics at play for the offering of Salvator Mundi. But since A) others have already called attention to the painting’s twisty attribution saga (first credited as a Leonardo in 2007!) and complicated legal history (Rybolovlev/Bouvier alert!); B) I already wrote about its past pricing curiosities a few years ago; and C) right now all I want to do is crawl into bed and pass out, let’s focus on one key component alone: namely, Christie’s marketing campaign.

Nate Freeman at ARTnews wrote that “the pomp and circumstance surrounding the announcement of both works was a display of chutzpah rarely seen from Christie’s—the auction house said it had not staged such an unveiling before.” Per my colleague Eileen Kinsella, “The consignments were announced at the auction house’s Rockefeller Center headquarters…with remarks by a host of executives including postwar and contemporary art department co-heads Loïc Gouzer and Alex Rotter, along with Old Master senior specialist Alan Wintermute and Old Master department head Francois de Poortere.” Read more

2018-10-29T09:52:47+00:00