On June 20, Christie’s former co-chairman and auction veteran Loïc Gouzer launched an app to sell major works of art to buyers. The app, Fair Warning, will serve as a platform for members-only to swipe and bid on artworks. The first auction was held on June 28 where Synthist, the 2018 portrait by Steven Shearer, was sold to a private European collector for $437,000. Since then, the app sold a piece by Steven Parrino for $977,500 and a body print by David Hammons for about $1.3 million.
“It’s really an experiment”, said the proprietor who is infamous for his ‘unorthodox sale ideas’, procuring and positioning multimillion-dollar artworks, reported Robin Pogrebin of The New York Times. Gouzer had previously sold Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450.3 million. “The idea was to create a guerrilla type of auction system,” he explained, “where you could start moving paintings by using the cloud rather than physical locations.”
While the chairman of Christie’s Americas, Marc Porter called Fair Warning “clever and inventive”, he argued that the key factor will be the “breadth of audience” on the platform wherein Gouzer would have to “contend with the worldwide data that large auction houses, art fairs, and mega-dealers have been investing in for years.”
To be eligible to attend the auction, buyers have to apply for admission and get evaluated on the seriousness of their collecting, while Gouzer carefully looks out for and disqualifies buyers who would try to resell the works for higher prices to earn a profit. Gouzer also had to line up a minimum bid for each piece to satisfy the demand of the sellers.
For the untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982 sold on July 30, Gouzer transformed his garage in Montauk, New York into a guarded, climate-controlled viewing area for interested buyers. The sale was conducted live and the app registered the bids before being sold at $10.8 million. Of all the sales made through the app, Gouzer earns a flat 15% commission.
For his future lots, Gouzer said that he is picking and choosing carefully— “I only put works that I would buy for my invisible collection— my taste is eclectic but very selective”. Hence, he is willing to wait until he finds pieces that are up to his standards. Gouzer added that it was an “extension of the curation” he did at Christie’s but with “complete freedom” and now, with no investors, he doesn’t face any pressure.
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