Christie’s London Cancels Post-War and Contemporary Art Sales in June

The auctions house wants to focus on two main seasons: March and October.

An employee poses with an artwork by American painter Robert Rauschenberg entitled Transom, during a photocall ahead of the Post-War and Contemporary art sale at Christie's London on March 3, 2017. Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images.
An employee poses with an artwork by American painter Robert Rauschenberg entitled Transom, during a photocall ahead of the Post-War and Contemporary art sale at Christie's London on March 3, 2017. Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images.

The shifts in the international auction calendar continue. In an announcement sent out this past weekend, Christie’s London has called off its June Post-War and Contemporary Art sales to concentrate on building two main seasons for these auctions: March and October.

Christie’s next Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction this year will take place on October 6, coinciding with the 15th edition of Frieze London. The auction house, however, will keep its June Impressionist and Modern sales as usual.

“We are always looking to ensure that we offer collectors the very best material at the right moment and as the art world calendar is always evolving, we are leading the market by making changes to meet the needs of our global audience,” Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s, said in a statement.

“The aim is to create two highly focused moments in the Post-War and Contemporary Art sales calendar that maximize London’s position at the crossroads of the world art market. We look forward to bringing more collectors than ever to London in both June and October this year,” he added.

According to the press release, the decision was made taking into a consideration a number of factors, not least the successful change of dates of the February Post-War and Contemporary Art sales to late February, early March, which achieved sell-through rates of 95 percent by lot and 98 percent by value (Sotheby’s and Phillips also changed their dates, to avoid clashing with the Chinese New Year.)

Christie's London on King Street. Courtesy Christie’s.

Christie’s London on King Street. Courtesy Christie’s.

Another consideration is the extremely busy art calendar of this spring-summer 2017, with the Venice Biennale, Documenta in Kassel and Athens, the New York auctions, and Art Basel all happening in quick succession, and making it hard for collectors to attend them all.

These flexible sales dates are gradually becoming the norm, as auction houses seek to follow the international art calendar, increasingly dictated by the most powerful art fairs.

Last October, all three auction houses moved their dates forward to coincide with Frieze London, which had itself rescheduled to avoid clashing with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

But it seems that regarding this cancellation of the June contemporary sales, Christie’s might be going at it alone.

Sotheby’s told artnet News that they “have no plans to change the June contemporary schedule. This has always been a very successful season for us, with over $1.5 billion spent in Sotheby’s London June sales in the past decade.”

Meanwhile, a Phillips spokesperson told artnet News that the auction house is still “in the process of considering options.”


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