From a recent Christies PR Release. Underline is mine.
”It has been an incredible week for Christies and the London Contemporary Art market,” said Jussi PylkkÃ¤nen, President of Christies Europe. “Every major collector in the world travelled to London to attend our sales and the great events at Frieze, the museums and the galleries. Over 25 world auction records were broken at Christies where we have established an incredibly strong position of leadership in the Italian, Post War and Cutting-Edge markets. We look forward to our major London sales in February with great confidence.”
I guess when you’re selling work made in the same calendar year as the auction, then calling it “contemporary” is not enough. The new category may also be a setup for the house’s next strategic moves: Its contemporary art capa, Amy Cappellazzo, told Art Review that she expects to someday be auctioning brand-new works, saying, “We’re the big box retailer putting the mom-and-pops out of business.”
I’m doubting she means that last part. Why? Because auction houses sell whatever they have on hand to sell, whereas galleries build a reputation for discriminating taste. That means that in the long run, auction houses need galleries around, since the highest prices reaped on auction blocks are for pieces first stamped with the imprimatur of prestigious galleries.