If you compare contemporary to contemporary and remove the $450 million from the total, Christie’s totaled $338.6 million, just a bit higher than the total at arch-rival Sotheby’s tonight.To be fair to both sides, Sotheby's posted $302.7m without the Ferrari Formula 1 car bringing it just into the same 3-handle as Christie's. But considering this season was dominated by estates which Christie's outbid the competition for, Sotheby's sales total is a validating triumph for the entire team. It sure didn't feel like that during any of the week's Contemporary auctions. Across the board, the sales were characterized more by the monotony of a highly managed sale where works mostly get gaveled to a pre-arranged bidder. Sotheby's Gregoire Billault acknowledged this when he pointed out that Sotheby's had achieved a remarkable four New York Contemporary Evening sales in a row with a 90% sell-through rate. Billault is responsible for that hawk-eyed management but he certainly had help from Sotheby's COO Adam Chinn and the ever-watchful Amy Cappellazzo. All four of whom have been running the shop these last four sales cycles. With the close sale management comes some risks. Art auctions share a bit with fashion shows.
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