Christie’s Is Cutting Its Catalogue Pages and Print Materials in Half Next Year to Curb Its Environmental Impact

Most of its buyers don't receive catalogues anyway, the auction house says.

Christie's at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Courtesy of Christie's.

In an effort to reduce its environmental footprint, Christie’s is planning to cut in half its production of printed materials and boost its investment in digital communications.

The move comes after the auction house found that 52 percent of lots sold worldwide were purchased by people who did not receive print catalogues. The statistics were even higher—70 percent—for buyers from live auctions.

“Nearly all Christie’s global client base are now digitally engaged on a transactional basis with a complete collecting experience online,” Christie’s CEO Guillame Cerutti said in a statement. “From engaging general content to our detailed catalogues, bidder registration and post-sale processes, all can be accessed via screens of choice.”

Christie’s currently produces more than 700,000 printed materials per year, most of which are catalogues and gallery guides, making the new initiative, “not only possible but essential,” according to a statement from Cerutti. The auction house says it plans to slim down its catalogues, rather than cut them altogether.

Cost savings from the print cuts will be reinvested into digital engagement. Meanwhile, executives are also looking at Christie’s travel-related carbon footprint.

Earlier this season, Phillips auction house also stopped producing hard-copy catalogues for its “New Now” sales in New York and London, which are focused on younger, emerging artists.

“This new approach goes hand-in-hand with the tremendous increase in digital engagement we’ve seen from collectors around the world,” said head of sale Sam Mansour in a statement announcing the initiative. “Online accounts have grown by over 300 percent since 2017, and Phillips now receives online bids for over 60 percent of our lots.”

Mansour said that as more clients adopt its digital channels, whether from their phones or tablets, laptops or desktops, “we’re moving the majority of our content to those platforms.”

Sotheby’s declined to share details of their 2020 plans for print catalogues, but noted that digital developments are under way and will be shared in the New Year.

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