It’s not every day that you see the former CEO of a company who left abruptly making press statements as if he were still in charge of his old firm. But Steven Murphy spoke to the South China Morning Post’s excellent Enid Tsui and all but gave a press release for Christie’s new office opening in LA this week:
“The next big boom is going to be the west coast USA. The trajectory of what’s happened here in Asia shows that the market potential has always been here. It just took enterprises to see Asia as a coherent, integrated part of their businesses. The same will happen on the west coast,” he says.
We don’t usually think about the world’s sixth largest economy (California) as being under-served or under-developed the way Asia has been viewed prior to the 21st Century. But that’s never been the constraint on Christie’s—or any other auction house’s LA presence. The problem in California is that the business getters, the relationship managers on the ground in the prosperous cities out West don’t have the ability to price works. Murphy is hinting at that when he says this:
“The person in charge of California lived in New York when I was at Christie’s,” says Murphy.
The interview veers off into Murphy’s hope that LA will have a major art fair soon. (He probably shouldn’t hold his breath on that one.) As far as deal-making specialists being based in California, that seems unlikely for now. The relationship managers might get a beefed up presence; the LA offices may get bigger, host more exhibitions and have more visibility in the future; but the deal-makers will continue to live on airplanes flying in for a day or two to close a sale on either end.