How To Do Valentine\'s Day When You\'re Still In The Gray Zone

When it comes to innovation in the field of art auctions, it’s true that the Christie’s rainmaker Loïc Gouzer is hardly alone. That august auction house, in fact, has an impressive track record of minting dynamos from Amy Cappellazzo (who left to found Art Agency Partners, now part of Sotheby’s) to Philippe Ségalot and Brett Gorvy, both of whom now sell art privately. But Gouzer certainly takes home the distinction, if one can call it that, of being the oddest fit among those ranks. An antsy character with a half-heartedly decorated office, he often gives the impression that he’d rather be doing something other than the workaday labor of powering the world’s number-one auction house—perhaps directing a movie, or playing soccer, or raising money to save the whales.

It so happens, with his record of bringing in eye-popping business, that Christie’s seems to encourage these flights of fancy—with the calculated bet that even a failure or a bout of spearfishing (like the episode that lead to his bloodied Instagram portrait) might lead, like the Prince of Serendip, to untold success. It’s nice work if you can get it, but some people already wonder how much longer the arrangement can last, including Gouzer himself. In the meantime, at least, he seems to be enjoying himself mightily.

For the second half of a two-part interview, artnet News’s Andrew Goldstein spoke to Gouzer about his renowned fondness for using Instagram as a selling tool, his feelings on China’s growing weight in the art market, and why collecting art makes you a better businessman.

 

We spoke earlier about how you’ve used unconventional means to shake up the age-old auction business. One tool you’ve used to great effect has been Instagram, where you post a mix of blue-chip artworks from your upcoming sales, wildlife-conservation statistics, and photos from your personal life. You’ve built an engaged audience of 21,100 followers—as of this week—that includes such famous “like”ers as Gisele Bundchen. You’ve also used it to engage in entertaining flame wars, such as when you posted a spoof of fake Wade Guyton laser-prints saying “Thank U” after that artist creatively objected to being included in your “If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday…” sale. How do you feel Instagram is best suited to move the art market along?

Instagram is an incredible tool because you have direct access to collectors. I would estimate that at least 80 percent of the collectors I deal with follow us on Instagram at Christie’s, so we can use it undercut the traditional press, which is a good thing. Sometimes I also use it as a calling card when I’m putting together an auction in order to attract works: “Hey, guys, I’m doing a sale—this is what I’m looking for.”

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