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Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Cheyenne Westphal – Day 4

The Sotheby’s art expert finds the time to reflect on a successful trip – and toast her son’s birthday

Cheyenne Westphal – Day 4

November 16 2012
Cheyenne Westphal

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I’ve touched down in London. Today is certainly a bit of a recharge day and a time to catch up on some of the opportunities I had to temporarily shelve while working from the New York office. Before taking on the afternoon, however, first on my agenda is a brief but proper sleep – the flight back hasn’t allowed for much downtime.

Homeward-bound in a taxi, I flick through a copy of today’s newspaper and, turning to page 10, I come across a large picture-caption story on our sale of Mark Rothko’s glorious and vibrant No1 (Royal Red and Blue) for $75m. As I take in familiar landmarks on my journey through London, I begin to reflect on the sales we’ve just experienced. Only now, since landing, am I able to fully digest the outstanding results of the day sale. It brought the virtually top-estimate total of $89m – our highest day auction total in this category since the very peak of the market in 2008. That means we’ve united almost half a billion US dollars’ worth of contemporary art with collectors worldwide in just under two days. This is an exceptional feat and one I’m extremely proud to have played a role in, alongside my colleagues in New York, London and across the globe. In fact, all the New York sales of contemporary art this week have done well, which is a great indicator for the market.

Refreshed, I make my way into the office for a couple of hours. I want to put in some calls to a number of our UK-based consignors whose works sold successfully, to talk through the prices their artworks realised. I also take this opportunity to catch up on a couple of outstanding valuations. We’d been waiting to appraise these collections until we were equipped with the NY results. One sales series or a single week can make a gulf of difference, and it’s key to be up to date with pricing – and take into account the most current market conditions. We’re chasing a few big pictures for the February auctions in London, so I report back to those important clients about the glowing results and the buoyancy of the market.

As much as I adore the Big Apple, it’s wonderful to be back at home with my family, who I’ve been away from for almost an entire week. Travel is a vital and energising part of my job, but being abroad always makes coming home feel special. So, as a treat, I collect Jesper from his school in Notting Hill at 3.20pm. He’s very excited to see me!

Before leaving for America, I’d organised a get-together dinner with Jesper, my mum, and my boyfriend Uberto at The River Café, which I’ve really been looking forward to. Ruthie Rogers, the owner and chef, is a great friend of mine and her restaurant is without doubt one of my all-time favourite dining experiences in London. I can’t resist ordering the calamari, with the veal shin cooked in a wine sauce to follow. My son has developed a sophisticated fondness for langoustine, which he has to start, followed by a grilled leg of lamb with potatoes, made especially for him. We treat ourselves to a bottle of champagne to toast Jesper’s 10th birthday, say a big thank-you to my mum and celebrate the New York successes. To my complete surprise, on our way out we bump into my great colleague Oliver Barker and his wife Vanessa Gillingham – formerly the fashion director at Glamour – whose birthday they’ve been celebrating.

It’s a terrific, welcome-home treat, before a full day’s business in the London office tomorrow.