Art world insights and ‘a little bit of sparkle’: behind the scenes of Christie’s podcast
On Fair Market Value: Christie's Art Market Insights, Joey Quigley and Joanna Ostrem of Christie’s Trusts, Estates and Appraisals team exchange market insights with their fascinating colleagues
Before the pandemic, Joanna Ostrem, Co-Head of Trusts, Estates and Appraisals, and Joey Quigley, the department’s Business Development Director, spent much of their time travelling with Christie’s specialists to appraise large collections, and meeting with their contacts in the Trusts and Estates community at conferences and firm visits. When travel became impossible in March 2020, they took the opportunity to engage this audience in a new way, starting a podcast to share their colleagues’ insights on the state of the art world.
Fair Market Value: Christie’s Art Market Insights offers listeners a chance to learn about the art market from the people who know it best.
‘It was a chance to connect with a new generation,’ says Quigley, ‘and share some of the joy our colleagues bring to me and Joanna by doing an interview show. The goal was to showcase not only their expertise, but also how charming and entertaining they are — revealing a little bit of the sparkle that we see every day with a wider audience.’
Beyond this, the podcast provides valuable information to fiduciary advisors and Trusts and Estates practitioners who are helping to build and later sell collections on behalf of their clients.
‘Doing an interview show was a chance to connect with a new generation, and share some of the joy that we see our colleagues bring to work everyday’ — Joey Quigley
After defining the direction of the show, the two sat down with Jamie Geiger, who edits the podcast, to figure out how they would put it all together logistically. Once they got settled into a studio, their initial episodes set an approachable tone for the show. They provide an insider’s guide to the market, free from jargon. Joanna and Joey use their years of experience providing Christie’s services to professional advisors to extract essential information and critical expertise from their colleagues.
The first episode features an interview with Meghan Doyle, then a cataloguer in Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary department, who discusses the sale of Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69.3 million in 2021. ‘Being a cataloguer is not only knowing the art inside and out,’ she says, ‘but also knowing about market, and where precedent for them might be set anew come the auction.’
A key to success in the auction business is developing expertise on a variety of topics in order to have a vast working knowledge of the markets, but it is also about having deep familiarity with as many artists as possible. In the third episode, Lindsay Griffith, a Specialist, and Head of the Prints and Multiples department, describes her role and how it fits into Christie's ecosystem.
‘I think there's a misconception that we in Prints and Multiples are bit of a different bunch than what you need to be in a fine art specialist,’ she says. ‘Since knowing prints is such a comparative exercise between different editions, there's a real expertise that our clients value in us. We sometimes joke by asking ‘Do you need to be a nerd to be a Prints specialist?’ I think most of us would say that we are, but we're also proud of the fact that this is an intellectual exercise.’
At the end of every episode, the hosts offer guests a ‘Bonus Round,’ where they can share something they’ve seen, read or listened to that they enjoyed, as well as provide a glimpse of what’s coming over the horizon.
‘It was important to us that we did this show without a script,’ says Ostrem. Though the two hosts know Christie's inside and out, they wanted to make sure that the conversation remained spontaneous and lively, allowing their guests’ expertise to be revealed organically.
‘In addition to being knowledgeable, likable and passionate people,’ she continues, ‘our colleagues also provide great insight and tell deeply interesting personal stories. The Bonus Round gives them a chance to share who they are with a wider audience.’
Jonathan Rendell, Christie’s Deputy Chairman, said in his Bonus Round that ‘I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get to see the Donatello show in Florence. But though I haven’t seen the exhibition, I’ve seen the objects, lived with them, and you don’t really know what a thing is until you’ve had it in your hand, turned it around and felt the hand of the artist. To be able in our jobs to see these things, to be around people who want to share them with you, it’s an amazing privilege.’
In their fifth and most recent episode, Quigley and Ostrem interview Tash Perrin, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s, and she discusses her career as an auctioneer.
‘My father always said to us growing up that success is when preparation meets opportunity,’ she says. ‘When you’re at the auction, you have to know your increments inside and out, so you prepare by thinking about them, even practicing them in the shower. But when you’re up there, there are so many other things — like breathing, and projecting your voice — that you have to pay attention to.’
At the rostrum — the podium where an auctioneer stands (Christie’s was designed by Thomas Chippendale at the request of James Christie in 1766) — years of experience at the highest level of the art business are fundamental to success, along with the knowledge that only so much can be planned ahead of time. For Perrin, she can practice the bidding increments — the set amount that the price of an artwork goes up — but she also must anticipate the unknown, reading the room during the auction for in-person and online bidding.
‘It’s a bit like driving,’ says Perrin about auctioneering. ‘At first you’re thinking about all the moving parts — looking in the mirror, watching your speed, changing gears — but eventually it all just clicks and you’re driving.’
‘We want to celebrate the passion of our colleagues, their deep expertise, and the personal connection to the work they do’ — Joanna Ostrem
The knack for finding opportunity in the unknown is a theme that runs throughout Quigley and Ostrem’s conversations with Christie’s experts. And Fair Market Value reflects that same ethos, with the challenges of the pandemic giving rise to new ways of connecting with those who work in this business, as well as those looking to enter it.
‘We want to celebrate the passion of our colleagues,’ Ostrem says, ‘and the personal connection to the work they do.’
Listen to Fair Market Value: Christie's Art Market Insights on Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere you get your podcasts.
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