5 things you didn’t know about Christie’s

JUL 27, 2016 | By Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
The Defining British Art explored major private collections that looked at the evolution of British portraiture over three centuries. At the Loan Exhition, the artworks of four British artists were on display - Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lucian Freud, Lorn Leighton and Frederic Freud.
Every art connoisseur is well versed with the work and fame of Christie’s. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, the house has organised some of the most celebrated auctions through the centuries. Today, it offers around 350 auctions annually across over 80 categories, including fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. A brand of global fame now in its 250th year, here’s a look at some of its lesser known facts that may have skipped even those with a nose for news:
1. Bid by Bill Gates: At a Christie’s auction in New York in 1994, for Leonardo da Vinci Codex Hammer, Microsoft founder Bill Gates went head-to-head with a bidder buying on behalf of the Italian government. The record price of $30.8 million paid by Bill for the artist’s text and drawings in a way, helped opened doors to Silicon Valley billionaires buying at the auction.
2. Driving force: The brand is also known for its successful car auctions. In 1987 it sold a Bugatti Royale for $6 million, the world record price for any automobile. Also, in 2001 English singer-songwriter Sir Elton John sold 20 of his cars through a Christie’s auction, earning approximately $2 million.
3. Sporting spirit: Christie’s recently auctioned off six framed photographs and a wood cane amongst other memorabilia of Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, the first Indian to play cricket for England. Incidentally, the Indian first-class cricket championship Ranji Trophy is also named after him.
4. Significant birthday: To commemorate its 250 years, the brand organised The Defining British Art (an evening sale) and Loan Exhibition, both in London. While the former explored paintings from major private collections that illustrate the evolution of British portraiture over three centuries, the latter focused on the works of four British artists Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lucian Freud, Lorn Leighton and Frederic Freud.
5. Illustrious tome: Christie’s will be collaborating with Phaidon, a global publisher to produce a book titled “Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting” covering 250 key works of art sold in Christie’s history since 1766. Spanning across all salerooms and departments globally, it will reveal the stories behind iconic sales and artworks that have been passed through Christie’s over the last 250 years. The launch date of this paperback is scheduled for Autumn 2016.
Also read: Coolest art exhibitions in India to check out this season