The marketing genius behind the ‘Salvator Mundi’ switches gears

The marketing genius behind the ‘Salvator Mundi’ switches gears
Leading lights  -   Experts

Chances are that the name Marc Sands doesn’t necessarily ring any bells, although his CV and track record most certainly do.

As chief marketing officer at Christie’s, Sands was vital in the campaign behind the auction house’s most impressive sale to date: the record-smashing sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. The auction house made history in 2017 for selling the piece for $450 million, more than double the previous record for any work of art sold at auction. As part of a multi-faceted campaign, Sands collaborated with former contemporary art head Loïc Gouzer to ensure proper authenticity and provenance measures in courting some of the world’s biggest collectors and buyers.

Sands, who has also worked at the Tate and the Guardian Media Group, has now joined Bonhams as it attempts to strengthen its executive roster months after being acquired by Epiris, the private equity firm.

Sands’s “track record in transforming brands is extraordinary, and his experience in the auction business, in particular, will be of enormous importance,” said Bruno Vinciguerra, Bonhams’ newly-appointed executive chairman and former chief operating officer at Sotheby’s.

Sands told artnet News that the role of marketing within the commercial art world is arguably the most impactful one and that is especially the case at Bonhams. “Funny enough, it has the best chance of having the greatest impact in an institution like Bonhams, more so than at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.”

This is mainly because Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips operate at the very top end of the market where “a small group of people, most of whom already know each other,” mingle and transact. Price points here tend to be over the $1 million range, noting that there’s plenty of room for play in the sub $1million range.

When you’re dealing with those lower end of the market, “you have the capability to reach a wider audience and to engage more with the existing one. It’s much more prevalent than at the high price point.” Sands further commented on the lower end’s advantage in its stability as it tends to be less subject to economic uncertainty linked to looming political threats like Brexit, therefore fluctuating far less.

When asked about his motives in joining Bonhams and serving its new owners, Sands stressed that his tenure at Christie’s were “absolutely fantastic.” But the prospects of trying something new was “too interesting not to give it a go. Nothing is going to trump the Leonardo or the Rockefeller sale” — another record-breaking milestone he helped market for Christie’s—”but there’s plenty of stuff here that needs doing.”