Auction Houses Troll Instagram for Fresh Meat

"The scene at our #FirstOpen cocktail party happening now in New York."
Photo: ChristiesInc/Instagram.

Do you have an ability to ingratiate yourself to the obscenely rich? Do you even know some rich people who might be interested in art? Then Sotheby’s and Christie’s might be hiring.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “climbing art values and an influx of new international collectors have thrown Sotheby’s and Christie’s into a global frenzy of research and genuflection.” One telling stat: a full third of Sotheby’s employees exist simply to find ways to entice and coddle potential art splurgers. Based on all the inventive ways the article lists, we’re guessing that this number is climbing fast.

A lot of what the article details consists of exactly what you would imagine: lavish dinners, personal museum and studio tours, and a Sotheby’s “Preferred Program” that makes sure that big spenders never have to wait in line for a popular museum show. Others are more unconventional:

— Specialists “monitor collectors’ Instagram accounts in hopes of spotting them posing with wealthy friends who don’t yet collect. The specialists then seek an introduction.”

— Throwing parties for the children of wealthy collectors, in the hopes of meeting other rich kids, and their rich parents. What do you do at a Sotheby’s-sponsored kids party? An “art-themed scavenger hunt” is mentioned.

— Novel, and hilariously overbearing initiatives like the following: “After a new Chinese client paid Sotheby’s $15.8 million for Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge in May, Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, rounded up every art book she could find that included an image of the canvas and shipped them to the new owner.”

— Finally, here’s one that predates the current full-court press, but a goodie nevertheless: “Sotheby’s jewelry specialist Lisa Hubbard said she once spent three years sewing a needlepoint pillow portrait of a jewelry collector’s beloved Maltese, Serena.” The dog died before this opus was completed. Nevertheless, the gesture was appreciated.

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