The 5,400-square-foot space will house post-war and contemporary art, jewelry, luxury handbags and wine among other items meant to resonate with the Los Angeles market.
“The opening for L.A., for us, is a really important moment because it does recognize and reflect the importance of the West Coast in the world of high art and objects and jewelry,” said Christie’s chief marketing officer Marc Sands. “We’ve had a presence in L.A. for some time. I think this is of a different dimension altogether in terms of the commitment to the area.”
The executive added the flagship is Christie’s largest and most significant investment this year in a state that is the company’s third-largest market for growth.
A cocktail event is planned for April 19, the evening before the auction house opens a special exhibition celebrating the flagship. The exhibit runs April 20 to 28 and will feature art ranging from paintings and photographs to watches and private sale items. Among those items is a 1925 Cartier pendant watch and a 1968 Rolex Paul Newman Daytona watch.
The flagship’s opening comes as the company makes strides on the digital front with last year’s online transactions doubled from the prior year amid greater tolerance from buyers in making big purchases online. Christie’s has found clients willing and comfortable to make online purchases north of $100,000 and one of the questions, Sands said, then becomes just how high that threshold can go.
“It’s really driven by I suppose the new world of buying art. Where the notion of buying 10 years ago these quality materials online was pretty unlikely, our clients are being more relaxed,” Sands said.
The executive said digital is a big area of growth for the company, which has had an online presence for some time now: a web site since the early Nineties and an app since 2009.
Having that online presence for so long has helped bring in new customers, the chief marketing officer reported, some of whom skew slightly younger, although that’s not necessarily always the case.
“One of the perceptions of the online space is that the over 65 [buyer] is not playing in that game. They absolutely are,” Sands said.
The auction house is also carefully monitoring and participating in social media. Discovery via different channels such as WeChat or an Instagram has made it easier than ever for collectors to find pieces of art.
“It’s opening up a vista that is really, really interesting,” Sands said.
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