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Sign of change

Christie’s: new perspectives and uncertainties

Art Market | After reaching exceptional sales in terms of revenues and volume in the past years, Christie’s entered 2019 amid major internal turmoil. The latest change - and one of the most significant ones - is the resignation of Loic Gouzer announced on December 18. Gouzer was a highly public figure and president of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Department.

Loic Gouzer © Photo courtesy Christie’s
Loic Gouzer
© Photo courtesy Christie’s

After working at Sotheby’s for four years, Loic Gouzer joined Christie’s in 2011. He shared the head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art department with Alex Rotter and rapidly established himself as one of the key stakeholders in the London auction house. Over the past seven years, he orchestrated several record sales using distinctive marketing strategies in curated events, where genres and eras intertwined.

Among these :
- In may 2015, ten world records were established during the event Looking Forward to the Past. Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) (1955) was sold for $179,4 million while Giacometti’s sculpture L’homme au doigt (1947) was auctioned for $141,3 million. Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant (The Houses of Parliament, at Sunset) (1900-1901) estimated between $35 and $45 million, found a buyer for $40,5 million and Peter Doig’s Swamped (1990) was also sold in that occasion for $25,9 million.

- In may 2016, a new record was attained during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening with the sale of Untitled (1982) by Basquiat for $57,3 million. However, the record was rapidly surpassed by another piece by Basquiat, also untitled and painted in 1982, bought by the same collector Yusaku Maezawa for $110,5 million the following year at Sotheby’s.

- In may 2017, Loic Gouzer executed a brilliant strategy by including Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in a contemporary art sale, where it was sold for $ 450,3 million.

- In 2018, besides his involvement with the Impressionist & Modern Art sale and the Rockefeller collection’s auction, he was responsible for the sale of Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two figures) sold for $ 90,3 million, establishing David Hockney as the highest rated living artist.

Gouzer’s resignation echœs another departure, that of Francis Outred in November 2018. Outred had also worked for Sotheby’s before joining Christie’s in 2009, he was then promoted to head of the Post-War Art in Europe department in 2014, becoming another of the house’s prominent figures. He was behind the sale of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) for $142,4 million in 2013, among other significant auction sales.

It is also worth noticing that there has been a strong decline in Christie’s annual turnover on the French market (the global numbers have not been published yet). With a total of 234,4 million euros, the auction house has given up the leading position -which it had held for three years- to its rival Sotheby’s (251,5 million euros).

Vincent Kozsilovics
Publié le 25/01/2019
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Loic Gouzer © Photo courtesy Christie’s

Loic Gouzer
© Photo courtesy Christie’s