How To Sell Multimillion-Dollar Art At Christie’s

How To Sell Multimillion-Dollar Art At Christie’s


John Hays: Who will give me
$275, $275, 80, say 80, 80, 80, $280, 280, now say now 290, 290, 290. Narrator: This is John Hays, an auctioneer of nearly four decades. Hays: Now $320, 320, 350, 380, 400, and 400 is that all? And sold American. That’s
a tobacco auctioneer. Narrator: John works for Christie’s. Founded in London in 1766, it’s the largest auction house in the world and now has offices in
46 different countries. But in John’s posh world of art dealings, selling to the highest bidder
sounds a bit different. Hays: An art auctioneer may say, 240, sir, thank you, sir, $240, 260, $260, at 200, 280, thank you, $280, and 300, thank you, $300, is that all? Selling then for $300, for $300, sold. Two very different approaches. Narrator: John has worked more than 500 auctions in his 36-year career, bringing in about $1 billion in sales. He’s one of 56 auctioneers
working worldwide for Christie’s. Together in 2018, they racked in $7 billion in sales. Some of the priciest sales
have included a Harry Winston Pink Legacy ring that
sold for $50.3 million, Picasso’s “Fillette à
la corbeille fleurie” for $115 million, and in November 2017, Leonardo
da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for a record $450 million with fees. Auctioneer: $400 million is the bid, and the piece is sold. Narrator: But auctioneers
at Christie’s aren’t just smooth talkers. They’re
art experts, sales people, and performers, landing
multimillion-dollar bids with only a gavel and their voice. Hays: You’re in a theater.
You have to be able to keep people interested. You
have to keep people amused. You have to be serious in your purpose. The art of auctioneering is probably the least understood and maybe perhaps, after the art itself, is the most important factor in what
happens at Christie’s. Narrator: Becoming a Christie’s auctioneer is highly competitive. Every two years, Christie’s
holds an auctioneering school. Up to 40 applicants are accepted, but only two or three will move on to private instruction afterwards. Hays: I did the Christie’s
program in London and got my master’s
certificate there, and then I did every internship known
to man in the art world. I knocked on Christie’s’
door 36 years ago, and they hired me in the American department in October of 1983. Narrator: Most auctioneers
have a background in art history and an area of expertise. John’s is 18th-century American art. But since he sells everything from cars to jewelry to wine, he
has to do his homework before he ever gets up
on that auction block. We caught up with John at
Christie’s in New York City before an auction of 18th-century
European decorative arts. Hays: We’re in Christie’s’ warehouse looking at a Roman micromosaic table. This object is one of the
exciting pieces that’s coming up. Micromosaic tables are a thrill to me. I like to call them Roman holidays because here you see
depictions of ancient Rome. The estimate is $50 to $80,000 dollars. Narrator: The weeks
leading up to an auction, John will visit the Christie’s warehouse to become familiar with each piece. Hays: You want to have some
understanding of the material. You want to be able to
know who the artists are. You certainly want to be able to pronounce the names correctly. Narrator: While John’s
doing his prep work, all the art is photographed
and then set up in the gallery for prospective buyers to
come check out the goods. Then on the morning of the
auction, John comes here to the bids office to go
over the auctioneer’s book. This is essentially his
bible of auction secrets. It tells him a couple things: who has already put in bids for Christie’s, the estimated sale price for each item, if the seller has set a minimum
sale price or reserve price, who will be bidding on
the phone or in person, and the general interest in each lot. But even with all this preparation, when John steps out on that podium in a Christie’s-approved colorful bow tie, anything can happen. Hays: An auctioneer puts
himself or herself out there in a way that’s very public. It’s not for everybody because
if something goes wrong, you have to have the
coolness of a airplane pilot, you have to have the humor
of a standup comedian, you also have to be serious, and this is serious stuff for many people who are depending upon the auctioneer to deliver a very high-level,
a high-quality sale. Narrator: First, a lot is introduced. Hays: Right along to lot
55, ladies and gentlemen. Narrator: A lot is an item or a group of items that are up for auction. Each lot has a number. John will read off that number and give a brief summary of the items. Hays: 55, the early George
III giltwood mirror. Narrator: Then the first
bid gets the ball rolling. Sometimes it’s on the auctioneer’s book from an absentee bidder. Hays: And we can start
the bidding here anywhere, $10,000, bid at $10,000. Narrator: John states the price to beat, who’s holding the bid, and the price needed to steal the auction item. Hays: For 10,000, 11,000, 12,000, $13,000, at $13,000, in at 13. Narrator: Typically, the
price increments go up by 10%, but it’s up to John to alter those depending on energy in the room. Bids come in over the phone, online, or, of course, by paddles peeking up from the crowd in the sale room. Sometimes this process takes hours, and John says that a
good auctioneer’s voice falls into a cadence. Hays: At 16,000 on the phone
now, 16, coming in 17,000, at the back of the room at
$17,000, 18,000 back to India. Narrator: A speaking rhythm that comfortably carries
through the entire auction. It’s on each auctioneer to develop their style and learn
to find their pacing. Hays: Christie’s does
have a very unique style. We’re selling works of art. It’s perhaps a little bit pompous from time to time, but down deep it’s the same process as auctioneering cows at
a farm or thoroughbreds. The nature of different auctions has acquired a different criteria of what the audience expects. So tobacco salesmen who will break into “and now we’ve got the third
lot, and it’s the tobacco, and here we are ladies and
gentlemen, it’s the farm,” you know, and you see
that chant going through. If they heard a Christie’s art auctioneer, I think the audience would be shocked. Sometimes I’ll break into a farm auction just for the fun of it in an audience here in New York. It
always is good for a laugh. Narrator: Whether it’s a
room full of tough Texans or New York’s art elite,
John’s goal is to ethically bring in the highest possible price. So how does he nab those sky-high bids? Hays: It’s also knowing
when to fold your tent and to drop the hammer,
so there’s two issues. If you hang in there,
and you hang in there, and you hang in there, and you wait, you’ll loose your audience,
and they’ll get angry. So it’s being able to, at the
right time, on the right lots, with the right collectors,
and the right audience, being able to go a few more bids, and in this world with
million-dollar lots, one bid could be another $100,000. So I think one wants to achieve the highest price but not overdo it. OK, I’m out. Narrator: For an hour and a half, John masterfully guides
the vibe of the saleroom. His gestures command attention. His moments of silence
hold the room in suspense. His shooting eye contact
singles out the newest bidder. But just as easily, he
can flip the energy, joking with the audience and addressing phone operators by name. Then when the moment feels right, a swift pound of the gavel
rips through the space… Hays: Sold. Narrator: Closing the sale. Just as quickly as it began,
the auction is finished: 214 lots down, 185 items sold, $3.3 million in sales.

100 Comments

  • John L.

    May 7, 2019

    Lot #23

    who’s going to up vote this shiny white hand………Going once going twice….

    Reply
  • 🍯 blood honey

    May 7, 2019

    🤔 is it a Da Vinci tho? What's the latest?

    Reply
  • purr purple

    May 7, 2019

    Before 1k

    Reply
  • Zenn Lozanno

    May 7, 2019

    I should ask this man to sell my 5 years old brother's drawing

    Reply
  • Helloww im ur sUnShInE Papii

    May 7, 2019

    the way he said 290 sounds like tsunami……….. nslsnkdnajaa

    Reply
  • Get Rich By 2020

    May 7, 2019

    Ladies and gentlemen. This is how Billionaires outdo each other in terms of money.

    "This guy just bid 150M for that piece , if i do 160M , He'll have to pay more money muahahaha"

    "200M" Snickers inside

    Reply
  • Daniel Stanneveld

    May 7, 2019

    Im gonna teach this to my kids😂

    Reply
  • FalconEagle

    May 7, 2019

    What a tremendous waste of money.

    Reply
  • AHR Red

    May 7, 2019

    Just Says Thank You Every Time Its Rise And If It Stop Say "Is That All"?

    Reply
  • Leonie H

    May 7, 2019

    I mean this was obvious but a great video and what a great production value😄. Thank you guys! That was super interesting to watch😊

    Reply
  • Alberto Portugal

    May 7, 2019

    But can you perfectly pee into the cup they give you at urine exams to the line and nothing more, nothing less?

    Reply
  • ENCRYPT3DBR0K3R

    May 7, 2019

    When can we place our Bids in BITCOIN with Christie's ?

    Reply
  • Deejay Stuffs

    May 7, 2019

    When u are rich u will literally buy anything

    Reply
  • Dirty Dan

    May 7, 2019

    I love Business Insider. I learn so much! This man had my respect.

    Reply
  • GAME FEVER SP

    May 8, 2019

    I don't know how to draw ,can he sell my paintings for millions too?

    Reply
  • Troy Padilla

    May 8, 2019

    You just have to be hella annoying

    Reply
  • Krisna Dharma S

    May 8, 2019

    Very intresting….

    Reply
  • aaron 5

    May 8, 2019

    1:02 what a masterpiece

    Reply
  • kenzoic

    May 8, 2019

    Someone who knows how to bullshit faster than diarrhea?

    Reply
  • 420 Blaze Master

    May 8, 2019

    Wonka bars… Ahhhh your majesty!!!!

    Reply
  • Rizuchan

    May 8, 2019

    So… Who is Christie?

    Reply
  • Jack Kuncze

    May 8, 2019

    That mundi isn’t a da Vinci

    Reply
  • PHA Q 🖕

    May 8, 2019

    Ohhhhhhhhh $1.00….1.00 OHHHHH do i hear $2.00……$2.00 ooohhhhh 3million do i hear 3 million. That is the most effective method jump from $2.00 to $3 million someone will bid thinking it was gonna go to $3 but they would bid the 3million and sold sold sold

    Reply
  • Ludovic Beck

    May 8, 2019

    Confuse, exaggerate, pretend, lie and do it quick before people can realize that they’re being scammed.

    Reply
  • Jim Jam

    May 8, 2019

    Storage Wars

    Reply
  • Ali

    May 8, 2019

    So what seller do with that money from selling art?

    Reply
  • DwadeFL4SHMV3

    May 8, 2019

    “Coolness of an airline pilot”
    “Humor of a stand up comedian”
    What a load of BS.
    Didn’t hear one joke and never seen an audience laugh at an auction before 😂

    Reply
  • GFORCE VLOGS

    May 8, 2019

    Car auctions

    Reply
  • Celadon Jade

    May 9, 2019

    john hays shouldve spent some of HIS BIG MONEY FIXING HIS TEETH!
    GOOD LORD!

    Reply
  • Pat W

    May 9, 2019

    Cool job to see art etc

    Reply
  • Kodi Shim

    May 9, 2019

    Wait what? "500 Auctions in his 36 year career". That averages 1.15 auctions a month. Just one day of work a month?

    Reply
  • Aurobindo Ghosh

    May 9, 2019

    can't they use microphones?

    Reply
  • Dhruv Rakesh

    May 9, 2019

    I like how they are using the efforts of people in the past to earn money lol

    Reply
  • Eric Cartman

    May 9, 2019

    Correction required – Salvator Mundi ALLEGEDLY by Leonardo DaVinci. There are well documented issues with this painting and it may have come from DaVinci workshop or from one of his students but the master may not have painted any of it himself.

    Reply
  • Sumedh Pradhan

    May 9, 2019

    I think he does auctions for IPL too..

    Reply
  • Mass Debater

    May 10, 2019

    Pathetic

    Reply
  • Ninjuric

    May 10, 2019

    Leonardo's painting sold for 450 million dollars (with fees) but in the auction they sold it for 400 million… So 50 million dollars in fees… LOL wth

    Reply
  • HindsightPOV

    May 10, 2019

    But does being an auctioneer pay well?

    Reply
  • Sundar Pichai

    May 10, 2019

    lame

    Reply
  • Andrew Ling

    May 11, 2019

    Charities steal art and sell it to rich people

    Reply
  • Jethro Dacanay

    May 11, 2019

    auctions are not always expensive , its also a great way to find bargains for example if an auction house host a major auction of furniture , art , jewelry and more ( specially online auctions ) chances are the estimate of the items does not mean it will always sell at that price sometimes the item/lot was sold ( including fees ) 15 to 60 percent less than the estimate.

    Reply
  • paul xander

    May 12, 2019

    Just imagine you have a kid and he draw d!ck in the painting

    Reply
  • Ben Abbott

    May 12, 2019

    It’s not even that impressive; in that opening segment he tripped over his words like five times.

    Reply
  • OuchMyBalllllllllllllllsssssssssss

    May 12, 2019

    Me watching this with $3.09 in my bank account

    Reply
  • ahmad fauzan

    May 13, 2019

    USD 450 Million, glad to be poor

    Reply
  • Super BottleBros

    May 14, 2019

    1:50 where's the handle?

    Reply
  • Lightnin' Gamin'

    May 14, 2019

    An auctioneer: The art of auctioneering is the least understood

    Quantum mechanics: Am I a joke to you?

    Reply
  • CrimsonDragon

    May 15, 2019

    1:02 …

    Reply
  • Ashish Zachariah

    May 15, 2019

    He looks like Dr Phil

    Reply
  • BlazingBanana

    May 15, 2019

    John: “Coolness of an airline pilot”
    “Humor of a stand-up comedian”
    Also John: no different to selling a cow

    Reply
  • FaZe Finna Nut

    May 17, 2019

    Bought to be a rapper out here.

    Reply
  • VVRPL

    May 17, 2019

    You can earn money but no respect in this business.

    Reply
  • Klipklapklop •

    May 18, 2019

    I smell illegal money being transferred through this so called art

    Reply
  • Phlegethon

    May 18, 2019

    Oh this is where those art history majors go

    Reply
  • Ae Norist

    May 19, 2019

    Massive corruption, no conscience.
    The vast majority of high priced art sales is merely a way for rich people to dodge taxes and launder their criminally gained money.
    You could shoot any of the customers straight in the face and you´d probably have a 95% chance it´d be a giant service to humanity.

    Reply
  • Lucid

    May 19, 2019

    1:02 😝

    Reply
  • Naruto Uzumaki

    May 20, 2019

    Robbing christies warehouses would be a pretty amazing heist where you’ll get a huge amount of cash well huge amount of items that you’ll have to sell somehow

    Reply
  • Shaun Zhou

    May 20, 2019

    1:02 hol' up wait a minute

    Reply
  • Colby Florendo

    May 20, 2019

    As I watch this video; I don’t want to be a millionaire, maybe just a tens-thousand aire

    Reply
  • Michael Manson

    May 20, 2019

    1:02

    Reply
  • 1000 subscribers with no videos

    May 21, 2019

    Stares in Tokyo ghoul

    Reply
  • Ben Freireich

    May 22, 2019

    He’s shite

    Reply
  • Chuck's poke

    May 24, 2019

    Never considered an piece of arts selling for millions because of an animated auctioneer….who knew.

    Reply
  • blasion15

    May 24, 2019

    Comments be like:
    Rich people washing money with overpriced art:
    Good for them👍
    Workers wanting a living wage:
    Oh hell no!😡😡😡

    Reply
  • reema s

    May 27, 2019

    He looks like he’s in a costume. Not clothes wise but his face, hair, and vibe makes be thinks he’s not real and that he’s wearing a mask and a wig.

    Reply
  • hurcule911

    June 1, 2019

    in todays auctions they sell allot of fake art, and the auction house doesnt give a shit… all they worry about is selling the piece and getting the money

    Reply
  • Oof

    June 1, 2019

    1:02

    Reply
  • Tom A

    June 1, 2019

    youtube stop bringing me to stupid things please… geeezzz

    Reply
  • Gneo Z

    June 1, 2019

    I still dont get why bad art sells millions xd

    Reply
  • Haruka Izanami

    June 3, 2019

    Some artwork sold are like my drawings when I was five I should get them appraised or something

    Reply
  • 人情味儿没有

    June 5, 2019

    These guys' jobs should be the first to be eliminated by AI.

    Reply
  • KING MUHAMMAD

    June 5, 2019

    1:01 wtf

    Reply
  • - Horizontal -

    June 7, 2019

    Woh, 10k carpet to 75k…man…

    Reply
  • Travis Brontide

    June 8, 2019

    3:13 why does that sound like a sex term

    Reply
  • Hiba Sobh

    June 8, 2019

    “I like to call them “Roman Holidays”, I see what you did there John, someone is a Audrey Hepburn fan, hahaha lol 😆😆😆😆

    Reply
  • The Truth

    June 9, 2019

    Are these auctions just a transfer of wealth between the rich. Maybe someone wanted to take recoup some of their money? Idk. Paying ridiculous amounts for such things is crazy. A painting? Go on Google

    Reply
  • Anthony Hendra

    June 13, 2019

    When the frame is worth more than the painting

    Reply
  • 제이슨신

    June 16, 2019

    Tax evasion assistance

    Reply
  • Angel Ortega

    June 16, 2019

    Shit my ass would probably choke and give the shit away for free

    Reply
  • Earl Spencer

    June 17, 2019

    This job can be taught to anyone with a good voice and decent social skills in a couple months.

    Reply
  • Tom McDonough

    June 19, 2019

    True story. My neighbor likes arts and crafts and made a bunch of bright red 1' square glossy hearts. She sold about 10 of them for $30 each to a local store that sold 'em for $50. She sold another, just like the other to a local art gallery for $300! He later sold it for $475. The purchaser might not be too happy upon seeing it for $50 in a store a few blocks away, lol.

    Reply
  • Leprosu Gnome

    June 22, 2019

    Tbh his work is kinda useless… I mean, everything could literally be done in the internet or with a singles computer.

    Reply
  • UwU_Ejwut

    June 23, 2019

    I want to burn the art and see what happens

    Reply
  • Kristine Wongba

    June 30, 2019

    He raps faster than those lil rappers

    Reply
  • Vlada Capone

    July 3, 2019

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    Address: 37.187.222.168:7777

    Players: 110 / 350

    Ping: 47

    Mode: BE:RP v1.0.0 by Juga

    Language: Yugoslavian

    Reply
  • Abu Shook

    July 6, 2019

    1:36 why is he holding the hammer like that

    Reply
  • WAFFEN COLLIDER

    July 6, 2019

    Anyone else notice how small Washington's head is in the painting on the thumbnail pic?

    Reply
  • Mazapan🎭KingPin™

    July 9, 2019

    If i would go to any auction i'd be scoping out the daughter's, wife's, and even the assistant.

    Reply
  • or8t

    July 13, 2019

    Would like to know how much he gets paid; how his pay structure actually works…
    Simply salary?
    Paid per auction, depending on the profile of the lots?
    Percentage based somehow?
    Really intrigued.

    Reply
  • George Retina

    July 14, 2019

    та он просто набивает себе цену)

    Reply
  • adrienne gellman

    July 18, 2019

    I love the handmade pendant of George Washington in this

    Reply
  • Chris Russell

    July 19, 2019

    Amish auctioneers are a must hear..

    Reply
  • eduardo torres

    July 20, 2019

    this guy aint shit against texas auctioneers

    Reply
  • LeVelle Coley

    July 20, 2019

    The mans a wizard 😂

    Reply
  • f Forecast

    July 22, 2019

    Christie’s only has 56 auctioneers? That’s really surprising considering how big they are

    Reply
  • N K

    July 24, 2019

    “In every problems, you need to be cool like a plane pilot, funny like a stand up comedian, and serious at the same time”

    Reply
  • D R

    July 25, 2019

    He is selling tens of thousands of dollars worth of art and uses a 5cent Bic pen.

    Reply
  • גל אדרי

    August 11, 2019

    I have a painting by John Leech from the 1860s the painting is real and I want to sell it

    Reply
  • Nisal Jay

    August 17, 2019

    Anybody’s gonna talk about the black money laundering disguised in so called million dollar auctions ?!?!?!?

    Reply
  • The Wayward Grape

    September 5, 2019

    All that money to stroke the ego.

    Reply

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