Home Magazine A new era for auction houses

Is it clear to everyone that, among the most evident signs that this lockdown will leave in the art market, the promotion and shift of fundamental activities to the online platforms, it is just at the beginning of a long journey. Just think about the distance and all the service that an auction house must offer during a sale... by making a drastic cut in costs, digital technology will offer new ways for show, value and sale art. In recent months we have seen the latest proposals from fairs, galleries, even the museums. Now it's time to look at the big houses of the market, starting from the top: Sotheby's.

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The auction house has announced new dates, correlated by an explanation that would illustrate new tools and ways to participate. Without historically unprecedented, the important auctions planned for the end of June in New York will perfectly combine the possibilities offered by new technologies with the needs of the auction house and most of all, the collectors. Just going back to the distance factor: the mentioned auctions will be held in London where the hitter Oliver Barker will be placed in connection with the other Sotheby's branches and with possible buyers. The various appointments will then be broadcast live in high definition and thus allow everyone to follow the progress of the auction and the results.


Bernardo Bellotto, Dresden, a view of the moat of the Zwinger. Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000. 


In short, the lockdown has forced the auction houses to reinvent themselves and renew their organization through new strategies, but if these will prove themselves effective a new era of the art market will be officially inaugurated. Thanks to the new strategy developed by Sotheby’s it will be possible to attend most of the postponed auctions. The auction house has already communicated the time and dates for New york. The first contemporary art auction will be held on 29 June at 18.30, followed by the evening auction of modern art and the Impressionists. Great anticipation has been raised for these appointments also because of the lots that will be exhibited, which include important masterpieces. Among these stands out the oil triptych by Francis Bacon (estimated at 60 million dollars) and the painting by Lichtenstein "White Brushstroke I" (estimated at 20/30 million dollars).


Francis Bacon, Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus. Estimate in excess of $60 million.


The auctions that should have been held in Hong Kong in April were also announced for the period from 5 to 11 July. In this case, given the current conditions of recovery in the country and the live organization of similar initiatives, the auctions will take place. Of course, all the rules and security measures in place will be respected in order to ensure that appointments are carried out safely. The initiatives promoted by Sotheby's are obviously followed by its great competitors. Christie's announced in May that upcoming auctions will be held by combining on-site and virtual presence. Phillips, not new to the live streaming auctions that he has been making for about five years, will follow this policy for the auctions scheduled for June. How will New York auction take place?

On the screen will appear the beater and the monitors with the other branches managers in New York, Hong Kong, Milan, Geneva, Paris. They will be in charge of receiving offers from all over the world by telephone. The lots will also be shown live on the screen and before the auction, they will be viewable online or by appointment in the New York office of the auction house.

Cover image: David Hockney, 30 SunFlowers, 1996 (work detail). Estimate upon request.  

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