Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Cheyenne Westphal – Day 5

The contemporary art auctioneer indulges in a weekend of prandial pleasures and cultural contentment

Cheyenne Westphal – Day 5

November 19 2012
Cheyenne Westphal

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

First in my book today is to regroup with my London-based team and analyse the results achieved for particular artists, works and periods across all the New York contemporary art auctions, with a view to correctly estimating the paintings in the consignment pipeline. We also discuss the bidders and buyers, and formulate some conclusions about the participation patterns we witnessed.

Secretly, I’m rather relieved that I don’t have any business meetings over lunch, so I can spend my lunch hour at TenPilates, which is five minutes away from our New Bond Street offices. I find that Pilates is one of the best ways for me to refocus, relax and revitalise, and I try to attend at least two sessions a week. On my way back to work, I grab some healthy sushi to graze on at my desk.

After lunch, I have a post-sales-interest meeting that is back-to-back with a sourcing summit to discuss the artworks we’ll be proactively going after, involving New York and London, via our telepresence conferencing facility. Our next sale is really beginning to take shape – things are looking very promising.

As is undoubtedly the same for anyone with a demanding career, the weekend is an opportunity to indulge in my passions and interests, and devote quality time to those nearest and dearest to me. I take advantage of every moment. Saturday morning is spent brunching on eggs Benedict at our usual spot, Raoul’s on Talbot Road. Over our meal, I give Jesper the gift I brought him back from Zitomer – it’s a battleships game and he’s ecstatic! Before strolling back home, we swing by Portobello Market, where I buy flowers for the week. I’m quite habitual in the flowers I pick, and at this time of year I choose hydrangeas and roses.

Movies are a real love of mine, from Hollywood blockbusters to art-house films, so I thoroughly enjoy spending time at the cinema. On Saturday evening, Uberto and I go to see The Master at the Notting Hill Coronet. It is an amazing movie about the creation of a post-war religion in America in the 1950s (perhaps inspired by Scientology), with an Oscar-worthy performance by Joaquin Phoenix and a great soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead.

It’s a beautiful, clear-sky day on Sunday, so Uberto, Jesper and I head to Hyde Park to take one final look around the Thomas Schütte show at The Serpentine, which ends today. This is the third time I’ve seen the exhibition and I get something different out of each visit.

I love to cook, but I only tend to have time to indulge on a Sunday. Today I make roast chicken with plenty of vegetables and apple crumble for desert. After supper, my thoughts turn to work, and the week and month ahead. It always amazes me how quickly one chapter ends and another begins in the auction business. We spend months preparing for a single evening auction or sales series. Then, the auction theatre unfolds to determine the outcome; this time last week, we couldn’t have predicted the results we achieved. As speedily as it takes place and ends – with precious but limited time to enjoy our shared successes – we re-focus our newly gained market insights onto the blueprint of our next major sales series in February. From tomorrow until we break up for Christmas – at which point the auction needs to be closed to consignments, allowing time to produce the catalogue – this is where the global contemporary art team will direct its energy. For now, we can only hope that the market responds in February as it has just done in NY – I’m certainly optimistic.