‘Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F')
‘Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F'), an oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso from 1955. It is estimated the region of $25m at Christie’s sale titled ‘One: A Global Sale of the 20th Century’.

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Using streaming technology, it will take place in real-time across four locations – New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong – with an auctioneer on the rostrum at each venue.

Bidders at the cross-continental event on July 10 will be able to participate both online and, where local government advice allows, with clients in the saleroom and phone bidding in operation. The firm stated it would “strictly adhere to local government guidance and scientific advice”.

The new sale, which is branded ‘One: A Global Sale of the 20th Century’, replaces those that were previously scheduled in New York for the week of June 22.

Each of the four cities will host a public exhibition that Christie’s said will be “staged in line with the appropriate regional health advice at the time” as well as a virtual exhibition.

The first auction to adopt this new ‘relay-style’ approach, this 'One' sale will open in Hong Kong at 8pm (local time) with Elaine Kwok on the rostrum, before moving to Cécile Verdier in Paris, Jussi Pylkkanen in London and concluding with Adrien Meyer in New York.

Each segment will offer lots in different categories and auctioneers will work in their local currency with the sales subject to the local terms and conditions.

Among the most expensive lots on offer is a Pablo Picasso oil on canvas Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F') which dates from 1955 and is estimated in the region of $25m. It will be offered in the New York tranche of the sale. A Roy Lichtenstein painting from 1994 is also on offer estimated in the region of $30m.

Roy Lichtenstein painting

Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Nude with Joyous Painting’ from 1994, estimated in the region of $30m at Christie’s sale titled ‘One: A Global Sale of the 20th Century’.

Christie’s chairman of Post-War and Contemporary art Alex Rotter said: “With our virtual and physical worlds rapidly merging, we felt that it was vital that we meet this new reality with an innovative platform.”

Christie’s co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art Giovanna Bertazzoni said: “This hybrid-format concept sale is a way to adapt and innovate. Crossing borders, we will offer a broad range of categories from international artists spanning the 20th century, exploring different regional points of view and perspectives to create one vision. We feel that this event will represent the way clients collect today.”

Phased reopening

Speaking to journalists on a call today, Christie’s chief executive officer Guillaume Cerutti said: “We are reopening across continental Europe this month. Paris will reopen on Monday and our London office in King Street will reopen on June 1. We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added that the company is in “good financial shape” and said it will “intensify its online sales”.

Regarding current levels of business, he said the auction house is seeing “very strong demand from collectors and buyers” however on the supply side consignors “have many questions” about when is the right time to sell. He said it was a challenge to “solve this equation” which would be through steps such as “more private sales and innovation”.

Sotheby’s latest

Christie’s and rivals Sotheby's have both been staging a wide range of online-only auctions throughout April and May but both are now clearly gearing up to reinstate a wider calendar of live sales.

Sotheby’s flagship sales of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary art in London are due to take place in the week beginning June 22.

In a statement to ATG the company said: “In light of the most recent Government guidance, we are preparing to gradually reopen our buildings in London in a safe and measured manner, in order that clients can view property and visit our exhibitions, and so that a limited number of staff can support both scheduled and projected sales as needed.

“We will be holding sales throughout June and July in London, and are working closely with BAMF to ensure our policies align closely with government directives. Once confirmed, we will ensure that our plans – both for reopening and for any future live sales – are made widely available so that those visiting Sotheby’s can feel safe in the knowledge that their well-being is our first priority.”

With regards to social distancing measures, the firm said: “Clients and visitors can expect extra precautions to ensure their safety, as well as creative opportunities for those wishing to preview our exhibitions and participate in our auctions – from in-person and virtual appointment viewings to enhanced digital experiences. We will announce a more a detailed schedule in due course, including relevant exhibition plans.”