Newsweek’s Katrina Brooker has this extraordinary scene from her long—and very good—story about the battle between the auction houses. The story opens with the lopsided Contemporary art market where Christie’s seems to have a pronounced advantage in sourcing material. Although Brooker offers no explanation of why Christie’s maintains this advantage, she does have this unusually dramatic illustration of the toll the competition might be taking upon Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s head of Contemporary art who spent the Summer desperate to land a major consignment:
“You know, I talk about the near-death experience,” Meyer says, recalling his hectic summer. He tells the story of how he put his heart and soul into winning the picture; how finally – right before the print deadline for the auction catalogue – he got word that the consignment was his. Meyer pauses for a moment, mid-tale, as though to add drama to his victory. Then, suddenly, something strange happens: His chest caves deeply, as though a huge weight has been dropped on him. He holds out his hand, as if reaching for support. His voice trembles into a deep, raw sob. “Let’s go somewhere else,” he finally says in a hoarse whisper. Meyer – renowned in the art world for his poise on the auction block – steps behind a wall and into a side gallery where privately, quietly, he wipes a few tears from his cheeks.
Can Sotheby’s Stay in the Picture? (Newsweek)