Christie's wants you to know that tonight's auction of major contemporary art isn't just for filthy rich old people. It's for filthy rich Internet people, too. That, at least, seems to be the message from their somewhat unusual publicity campaign surrounding tonight's auction, which features the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Currin, Wade Guyton and Christopher Wool, among others. The famed auction house will be live streaming the auction for the first time.
For one thing: they made a YouTube trailer, with a cool skateboardin' dude flying through art galleries, past all the stuff you could buy, if only you could afford it:
How much money are we talking about? For the sale's highlights, several million a pop. Andy Warhol's Little Electric Chair is estimated at $7,500,000 - $9,500,000; Jeff Koons's Aqualung should go for $9,000,000 - $12,000,000; and Basquiat's Made in Japan I is estimated at between $7,000,000 - $9,000,000. A few more modestly priced pieces will go for somewhere in the mid-six figures, based on Christie's estimates.
Of course, the new, more social approach to auction promotion shows that Christie's audience isn't just those with several million on hand to spend on some art. The auction house will livestream the event, which itself was culled from their traditional Post-War and Contemporary Art, for a wider audience of folks that are more likely to gawk than to bid. (Though you can do that online, too.) They also did some pre-auction promotion on their Instagram account. All the pieces in tonight's sale, called "If I Live I'll See You Tuesday..." are grouped around a theme, making the whole thing feel like an exhibition and an auction all wrapped up into one thing.
And yet, the increased interest in the influential contemporary works up for sale also translates into something else for them and the buyers: Last year, the traditional contemporary auction hauled in an astonishing $495 million in just one evening. Tomorrow, as Artnet notes, the main contemporary event will feature several works priced over $20 million, putting the auction house in position to rake in $500 million in sales.
You can watch the livestream here, starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.