On Friday, Christie’s staged its ONE sale, a global relay style auction and the first of its kind in the houses’ history. The four-hour long sale achieved a total result of $420 million with 78 lots offered across Christie’s global headquarters in Hong Kong, New York, Paris, and London—led by principal auctioneers across the four regions, Elaine Kwok, Cécile Verdier, Jussi Pylkkänen and Adrien Meyer. The global event closes the first set of milestones of the new virtual auction era. The auction hammered at $362 million, above its pre-sale low estimate of $337 million, realizing a total sell-through rate of 94 percent.
No longer a traditional evening sale, the hybrid auction kicked off with the first session late in the evening at 9:15 p.m. HKT at Christie’s Hong Kong headquarters, and in the morning for New York at 9:15 a.m. EST. Jussi Pyllkkänen opened the livestream with an address to the global audience introducing his colleagues.
As the sale opened, Christie’s LIVE, the firm’s transactional platform had already reach its maximum capacity for view-only attendees, but resulted in no delays for bidders. In a post-sale press conference, Christie’s CEO, Guillaume Cerutti, confirmed the sale’s virtual unique visitors swelled to over 20,000.
“I think the technical ease with which we were able to bid with one another, without a time lag as if we were literally in the same room was sublime,” Pylkkanen said in a statement following the sale. “I think this will have a dramatic effect on our reach.”
In New York, the last leg of the auction, seven works on offer in the sale came with a third-party guarantee. Across the four sessions, the top-grossing lots came last in the Rockefeller Center segment, directed by Adrien Meyer, Christie’s Chairman of Global Private Sales.
In a press conference following the sale, Christie’s representatives addressed whether or not the global ONE auction format would be deployed again. Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art, noted the results showed promise for the future. “It shows that the market is ready for new formats of selling, and new formats for thinking about collecting art,” Rotter said.
Kwok, director of Christie’s Chairmans Office in Asia, opened the sale to a full room of masked participants observing social distancing and other local health guidelines in the Hong Kong session. The four-location sale proved to be ambitious. The opening lot, a work by Chinese-American artist Martin Wong, revealed the four miked auctioneers fielding incoming bids would be forced to speak over one another. Though the excess noise was benignly disorienting, the production proved to be a reach for even the most experienced auctioneer.
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