The New York Times has a bold thesis for this story on all of the ways auction houses are said to striving to reach younger buyers through new channels. Unfortunately, the evidence for that thesis is a grab bag of unrelated events that may, or may not, support the claim.
Having said that. The final point, that selling valuable cultural property increasingly lies in telling a story about the object, does seem to be a recurring theme with the auction houses slowly breaking free from the constraints of the catalogue as the primary frame for marketing works:
“It’s absolutely critical, essential,” said Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president and principal auctioneer. “The next generation of artists and buyers and people who are inspired by, and interested in, the art world is absolutely critical to us.”
With interests as diverse as their upbringings and cultures, these young collectors are changing the way auction seasons are shaped. Unlike their predecessors, they often do not come from families that collected art, or even possess more than a surface understanding of the art world. They may discover a painting through social media and spend thousands, perhaps even millions, on an item without having ever set foot in an auction house. Time period and an artist’s background often come second to quality and a good back story.
While the formula varies from house to house, accessibility, education and storytelling seem to be common ingredients in efforts to reach the under-45 crowd and emerging markets in the East, as well as to inspire well-established collectors.
Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Other Auction Houses Adapt to Serve the Next Generation (The New York Times)