Yesterday, an online auction at Christie’s wrapped up but this auction wasn’t like most of the art world’s sells today. Christie’s was hoping to bring in new clientele and first-time bidders in an abnormal way, and it worked well. The auction, titled Christie’s 100, was held exclusively online, featured 100 contemporary artworks, and every lot began at only $100.
The auction was part of Christie’s First Open, a series of online sells the auction house created more than a decade ago to present contemporary and post-war art at more affordable prices. ‘I have wanted to do this ever since I took over First Open a couple of years ago,’ said Noah Davis, a postwar and contemporary art specialist for Christie’s, in an interview with Artnet News of the Christie’s 100 auction approach. ‘As the First Open venue matures, there are more objects in the $20,000-plus range. That is where we make the most money. But we didn’t want to lose sight of the opportunity to correctly market lower-value items too’
In the end, the sale was a definite success. 96 of the 100 lots were sold bringing in $327,375 over the course of 10-day auction. Of course, the total doesn’t compare to other sales that often have single works that go for more, but considering the aim of the auction, it shows that there is interest from people looking to buy art who might not be able to compete with some of the world’s biggest buyers. Only two days into the auction, there were already more than 150 unique bidders out of 300 registered bidders. Christie’s, according to Davis, is recognizing that there are a lot of people interested in buying but don’t have the budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a single artwork nor do they want to sift through hundreds of artworks, a process that he notes can be ‘tedious and overwhelming.’ Though different in price-point and actual bidders, the auction followed typical auction trends for Christie’s with many of its bidders being in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
Overall most lots in Christie’s 100 had presale estimates less than $5,000 with only a few items with estimates in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. The auction was led by works from well-known artists including KAWS, Robert Indiana, Yayoi Kusama. Other artists highlighted in the sale were Yves Tinguely, Vera Lutter, and Andrew Mania.
A 2011 triptych, called Frankfurt Airport VII: April 24, 2011, by Lutter, which held one of those higher estimates, was the auction’s top-seller when it sold for $37,500. Tinguely’s Vive la fête des idiots (1989) brought in $8,750, a set of Kusama’s iconic polka-dotted pumpkins from 2015 realized $3,500, a shiny red work by Jeff Koons, titled Balloon Dog (Red) (1995), sold for $16,500, and Matt Mullican’s Untitled (1991) went for $8,750.