Late on Friday, after Christie’s dominated the Contemporary art market, the auction house issued a pair of press releases that ends the dynamic duo relationship between Brett Gorvy and Amy Cappellazzo. Gorvy will now be the sole head of Post-War and Contemporary art department.
Though Cappellazzo will continue to source work for the PWC sales, her new development role remains less clear:
Cappellazzo will fuse her vast experience, and expertise with her existing network of collectors, dealers and artists, curators and institutions, in sourcing opportunities for both the primary and secondary markets as well as developing new relationships. She will also strongly support Christie’s Private sales activities across the board.
This move is the first by the company’s new CEO Steven Murphy. The release specifically says
Cappellazzo will support Steven Murphy directly in expanding Christie’s reach in the Post-War and Contemporary Art category, in both traditional and growth markets, collaborating with Christie’s extensive network across the globe.
And Murphy adds his own quote: “I am looking forward to working more closely with her. As I have travelled through the company the opportunities for new business in the Post-War and Contemporary field are more and more evident. I am looking forward to Amy’s success in her new role.”
The obvious inference to draw from this is that Christie’s is hoping to make more of its private sales in Contemporary art. Private sales have a greater margin than auction sales with lower marketing costs. Expanding margins by opening new markets was Murphy’s brief when he was hired as CEO.
Private sales, however, isn’t an open field. Christie’s will be competing directly with Gagosian for the global buyers who can generate meaningful revenue for the firm.