Salvator Mundi: Christie’s develops its marketing for the exceptional
Art Market | During its Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which took place on 15 November 2017, Christie’s obtained one of its best historical results with the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, among other contemporary and historical Western artworks. Directed by the young duo composed of Alex Rotter and Loic Gouzer, the sale stands out for its innovative and unprecedented marketing strategy.
Of 58 lots at auction during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 49 were sold (16% were bought-in) for a global sales result of $ 785.9 million. The main driver of this result was the painting Salvator Mundi (lot 9B) which knocked down at auction for $ 450.3 million (costs included) representing alone 57% of the overall sales. The painting, which was authenticated in 2011, has fascinated the entire world amongst all social categories and generations because of its message “The Christ saves the world”, its history and its rarity (there are only sixteen known paintings by Leonardo da Vinci to date).
It is noticeable how the presence of this legendary painting in the auction boosted the sale of the other works. By way of comparison, the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale 2016 sold a total amount of $ 276.2 million for an identical number of lots; and although the 2017 results were inferior to the auction house’s record (attained in 2014 with a global sales result of $ 852.8 million for 75 lots), Christie’s has established its expertise and control over Sotheby’s when it comes to Post-War and Contemporary Art. Without taking account of da Vinci’s painting sale, Christie’s reached a partial result of $ 335.6 million for 57 lots against a total of $ 310.2 million for 72 lots obtained by Sotheby’s at its Contemporary Art Evening Auction 2017.
Apart from the wide media coverage around the iconic painting, Christie’s sale counted with a majority of renowned American artists (42 out of 48), belonging to historic American art movements : Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Urban Art. Despite the fact that Basquiat’s Il Duce (1982, lot 10B) was bought-in (it was estimated between $ 25 million and $ 35 million), there were 44 sales above $ 1 million, among which 9 exceeded $ 10 million.
Among the records, two primary market works appear alongside Hans Hofmann’s Lava (1960) sold at auction for $ 8,862,500 (est., 4,000,000 / 6,000,000) :
- Still Life with Wedding Portrait (2015), a work by Kerry James Marshall (an artist who explores issues related to African Americans) was sold for $ 5,037,500 (est. $ 1,000,000 / 1,500,000) ;
- the installation exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in late 2016 : My Room is Another Fish Bowl, by French artist Philippe Parreno, was sold for $ 516,000 (est. $ 250,000 / 350,000).
Christie’s historical sale has taken place after a period of changes at the company that began in early 2017. On 1 January 2017, Guillaume Cerutti was appointed as Chief Executive Officer while Alex Rotter (who joined Christie’s in March after working for Sotheby’s for 16 years) and Loic Gouzer (responsible for the sale of Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger, Version O for $ 179.2 millions in may 2015) were appointed as chairmans of the Post-war and Contemporary art department. Watch this space.