Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Francis Outred

The Christie’s auctioneer gears up for the weekend’s major sales

Francis Outred

February 15 2011
Francis Outred

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Not a normal Valentine’s morning – have had to kiss a sad farewell to my wife Helen and our son Alexander; they have left for the week to my in-laws in Switzerland. I think they know what is in store for me... I’ve been at work through the weekend.

This is the first of three weeks in the year when we have auctions of post-war and contemporary art here in London; the others are in June and October. We’ve been gathering the works for the auctions for the past four months; the catalogue came out three weeks ago and we spent last Thursday night and Friday hanging the exhibition in time for the media preview and public exhibition.

I’m particularly pleased with the view – the main wall is dominated by our leading highlight, a rediscovered self-portrait by Andy Warhol, which rules over the rooms. The exhibition’s been busy all through the weekend, and we had a brunch reception yesterday for about 500 people. Collectors from all around the world are descending on London and it’s great to see and catch up with new and old friends as well as meet some new faces.

In the evening we hosted a lovely and intimate sit-down dinner for 60 of our best clients in honour of a good friend and colleague, Jean-Paul Engelen, who is leaving Christie’s to become director of public art in Qatar. People came in specially from all over Europe and, surrounded by the works of art on the walls, who knows – with generous husbands and wives, Valentine’s Day might just bring through some bids!

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