Home Art sale From Dino Bones to a first metaverse, here are 7 of the weirdest stunt auction houses made in the pandemic era

From Dino Bones to a first metaverse, here are 7 of the weirdest stunt auction houses made in the pandemic era


Auction houses have always had to work hard to keep their audiences awake and their portfolios engaged. Over the years this has involved a fair amount of experimentation, which has paid off at times (NFT, anyone?) (No, Christie’s, we habit never forget that time you hired a Spider-Man from the ill-fated Broadway show to unveil a Louise Bourgeois spider at Rockefeller Center in 2011.)

Like many of us, auction houses had to be very creative during the pandemic, performing some of their most inventive gymnastics to keep the wheels of commerce spinning.

Whether it’s getting into crypto or selling boxes of concept art poo, it’s been a strange time for a very strange, very old company. Here are seven weird and wonderful things these behemoths did to bring in dollars, pounds, and ETH in the age of the pandemic. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of how recently the stunts that now seem normal have been considered wacky.

A man named Beeple blew our minds

Beeple, Daily – The first 5,000 days. Courtesy of the artist and Christie’s.

What happened: While it may now seem like NFTs have always been around, it definitely looked like we had hit the peak of pandemic absurdity in March when everyone started talking about Christie’s selling something called NFT by an unknown artist named. Beeple for the mind-boggling sum of $ 69 million. The sale made history in the art market and prompted Noah Davis, the Christie’s specialist who organized the Beeple sale (aka Mike Winkelmann), to notice that he now considers life “as before and after Beeple, as the world thinks before Jesus Christ and after”.

The justification : “Scoring two industry firsts, Christie’s is the first major auction house to offer a purely digital work with a unique NFT (non-fungible token) – in fact a guarantee of its authenticity – and to accept cryptocurrency , in this case Ether, in addition to standard forms of payment for the singular lot, ”the auction house said in a statement at the time.

Oddity Scale: ❓❓❓❓❓ / ❓❓❓❓❓ — Even the artist couldn’t believe it, Tweeter “Holy fuck” as he watched the action unfold.

Sotheby’s opened in the metaverse

Welcome to the metaverse.  Courtesy of Sotheby's Twitter.

Welcome to the metaverse. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Twitter.

What happened: Not to be outdone by Christie’s, Sotheby’s signaled its openness to the world of Web3 when it opened in the Metaverse in October. Decentraland is a VR blockchain platform where people can both create and buy digital goods and services. Located in their Voltaire Art District, the virtual outpost opened with an exhibition of the New York auction “Natively Digital”, which ultimately grossed $ 5.4 million.

The justification : “We see spaces like Decentraland as the next frontier in digital art where artists, collectors and viewers can engage with each other from anywhere in the world and showcase art that is fundamentally rare and unique, but accessible to all for viewing, ”Sotheby’s said at the time the specialist Michael Bouhanna.

Oddity Scale:??/ ❓❓❓❓❓– It would have been sheer madness in 2020, but considering how much that has changed this year, it is shaping up to be a smooth business move.

Phillips sold a bunch of real shit

Anonymous white male artist.  Photo: Robin Black.

Anonymous white male artist. Photo: Robin Black.

What happened: Look, we know Piero Manzoni did it, but boxes of poo aren’t normal auction house fare. Nonetheless, earlier this year, Phillips put up for sale boxes of feces based on the diets of Banksy, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Matthew Barney under the project name $ HT COIN by an anonymous ‘white male artist’. Artnet News has exposed the creator as artist-activist Cassils, who also sells shit based on his own diet. Cassils’ own product fetched the highest price of the lot at auction, reaching $ 10,710.

The justification : “White Male Artist works like a Trojan horse circulating transparently with the crypto bros,” Cassils told Artnet News at the time. “But this project is not to get rich. We are thinking about systems like NFTs and how we can use them as artistic tools. “

Strangeness scale: / ❓❓❓❓❓– Five out of five, we all need to make a living, but selling boxes of poop for profit is odd in any book, no matter how much conceptual rigor is involved.

Christie’s hosted a four-hour auction marathon in several cities

The Christie's team in New York is handling offerings for the ONE sale on July 10.  Image courtesy of Christie's.

The Christie’s team in New York is handling the offerings for the “ONE” sale on July 10th. Image courtesy of Christie’s.

What happened: In July 2020, Christie’s tackled the lack of in-person sales by hosting what they called their first “bridge” sale. “ONE” was a four-hour marathon that took place consecutively in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, offering bidders in each city the opportunity to participate after dinner in Hong Kong and before breakfast in New York. York. Confusion ensued when one auctioneer started selling the assigned work to another. (Nonetheless, at least the auctioneers were able to shut themselves off – no such joy for the art journalists who watched the lots throughout the event.) Despite the juggling of venues and currencies, as well as an atmosphere slightly chaotic, the sale grossed nearly $ 421 million, just below its high estimate.

The justification : “Our buyers are international and this format reflects their varied interests. The new platform reflects the taste of our collectors, ”said Elaine Kwok of Christie’s Hong Kong at the time.

Oddity Scale: ??/❓❓❓❓❓— It was only weird back then, now it seems like common sense.

Artist sold a bunch of nothing for $ 18,000

Italian conceptualist Salvatore Garau, via Instagram.

Italian conceptualist Salvatore Garau, via Instagram.

What happened: Have you heard the story of the Emperor’s new clothes? Italian artist Salvatore Garau may have read this before proposing lo sono (I am), a concept piece that was salvaged from Italian house Art-Rite by a lucky art lover for $ 18,300 with the stipulation that it is, well, nothing-be displayed in a private home in a space measuring five by five feet.

The justification : “The vacuum is nothing more than a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and there is nothing left, according to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, nothing has any weight” , said the artist. Diario AS. “Therefore, it has energy which is condensed and turned into particles, that is, in us.”

Strangeness scale: / ❓❓❓❓❓– It was a strange event, no doubt, but he is not the first and he certainly will not be the last to try this sort of thing and succeed with panache.

Sotheby’s Recycled Banksy’s Love is in the trash

Banksy's Love is in the Trash (2018) at Sotheby's London on September 3, 2021. (Photo by Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for Sotheby's)

Banksy Love is in the trash (2018) at Sotheby’s London on September 3, 2021. (Photo by Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

What happened: Banksy caused a hustle and bustle at Sotheby’s in 2018 when he rigged a work of art to self-destruct right after it grossed over $ 1 million. The artist’s attempt to put a metaphorical finger on the art market, however, backfired when the shredding mechanism built into the frame snapped, immortalizing the waterfall in a half-ragged work of art ( but still salable!). Banksy’s unstoppable market growth in 2021 convinced the owner of this piece of art market history to part with the job a few years later, and it paid off. When he returned to the block on October 14, he grossed £ 18.6million ($ 25.4million), or 18 times the original price.

The justification : The work “was born from the most spectacular artistic event of the 21st century,” said Alex Branczik, Senior Director and President of Modern and Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. “On that momentous night, Banksy didn’t so much destroy a piece of art by shredding it, but rather created one.”

Oddity Scale: ??????/ ❓❓❓❓❓– One of the most nimble flips we’ve seen in a long time.

Christie’s sold a 66 million year old T-Rex in its 20th century evening sale

Christie's sold a nearly complete skeleton of a T-Rex named Stan during its evening sale last week for $ 28 million ($ 31.8 million after fees).  Image courtesy of Christie's.

Christie’s sold a nearly complete skeleton of a T-Rex named Stan during its evening sale last week for $ 28 million ($ 31.8 million after fees). Image courtesy of Christie’s.

What happened: Eyebrows were raised when Christie’s – ironically and formaldehyde-free – put a dinosaur skeleton up for sale at its 20th Century Evening Sale in late 2020. “Stan,” one of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s most popular skeletons complete never discovered, went under the hammer with an estimate of 6 million dollars. Two competing bidders raised the final price to $ 27.5 million.

The justification : “The legendary T. rex is a cultural phenomenon of the 20th century,” the house said in a statement. “The” beginnings “of a rex on-screen came just 15 years after the first of the species was first described by science, with the American production Sleeping mountain ghost (1918). Other representations of the T. rex can be found horrific human explorers in The lost World (1925), fighting the eponymous great ape in King Kong (1933), and terrorizing park visitors in the blockbuster jurassic park (1993) and Jurassic World (2015) franchisees.

Strangeness scale:??????/ ❓❓❓❓❓– Honestly? We are in awe of this feat of mental gymnastics.

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