Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Francis Outred

No time to rest between mega-sales at Christie’s

Francis Outred

February 18 2011
Francis Outred

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

No time to rest and reflect on yesterday’s extraordinary evening sale. Today is the day auction and I am auctioneer for the second half of the sale. It starts at 1pm – we start the day with a final interest meeting at 9am. For each work of art, there’s a seller, a buyer and a number of unsuccessful bidders and for the clients I know best, I try to get in touch and catch up about the sale.

I take to the rostrum at around 3pm and continue until 6pm – a long session of 110 lots. I love auctioneering – your mind has to be razor sharp with bids coming from the auctioneer’s book, the telephones, the room and the internet. The day sale does well and I bring down the gavel on the last lot of the sales – the end of a busy week of sales that has sold more than £75m – the highest total since our auction in June 2008, at what people refer to as “the height of the market”.

Following this, I head over to our South Kensington branch to the charity auction to raise funds for the Photographers’ Gallery who are expanding their premises. This is a project which is close to my heart because my love of photography was first sparked here in the early 1990s and I am now a confirmed collector of the medium. I am very attracted to a work by Maurizio Anzeri in the silent auction and leave endless bids right up to the last second and still don’t manage to buy it. I am the direct underbidder at £9,200.

Following this, it’s our final chance to give a big send-off to Jean-Paul, a close colleague who’s moving to Qatar after 15 years at Christie’s to run their public art programme. We gather the team and have a big celebration dinner wishing him well at the Imperial China, a quite unique venue in London, in the heart of Chinatown where you can gather a large group for Chinese and a spot of karaoke. There’s just enough adrenaline and energy left to toast his health and future, and a great week of sales. The big songs of the night are Please Don’t Go and We Are the Champions.

In retrospect, I think we’re all better at the day job...

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