Veteran auctioneer and Christie’s executive Jussi Pylkkänen will be leaving auction house after nearly four decades, according to a statement from Christie’s.
Pylkkänen will be stepping into a new role as an independent art advisor when he departs, after presiding over a final Old Master auction in London in early December. He will also be handling at least two major evening auctions in the upcoming round of New York sales next month. His final New York sale will be on November 9, when he climbs into the rostrum for the 20th Century evening sale.
Pylkkänen has been one of the longest-serving and most high-profile international auctioneers ever. He has handled the sale of billions of dollars worth of art, especially in recent years, when he conducted the sale of Salvator Mundi (circa 1500) that was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and sold for $450.3 million in November 2017, becoming the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. In addition to numerous nine-figure Giacomettis, Modiglianis, and Picassos, last fall Pylkänen served as the auctioneer for the collection of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, which took in $1.6 billion. Previously, he served auctioneer for the collections of Elizabeth Taylor and David Rockefeller.
Pylkkänen, 60, joined Christie’s 38 years ago as an Old Master and modern print specialist. From 1995 to 2005, he was director of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art department. He was appointed global president of Christie’s in 2014, after serving ten years as president of Europe, Middle East, and Russia.
Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti called Pylkkänen “a well-loved member of the Christie’s family” in the statement. “We are very grateful for his tremendous contribution to Christie’s, as a respected art specialist, a remarkable business getter and one of our best auctioneers. We wish him the best on beginning this next phase of his career as an independent client advisor.”
“Christie’s is an inspiring place to work and has brought me great happiness across four decades working with the very best specialists in the market, at the very heart of the art world,” Pylkkänen said in the statement. “I have been privileged to have the opportunity to befriend collectors all over the globe and auctioneer works of art of superb quality in every category in London, New York, Paris, and Hong Kong.”
Looking ahead, he noted that the art market continues to evolve. “The extraordinary influx of buyers at the top of the market now offers me a unique opportunity to share my experience with a new generation of collectors who are keen to buy major works of art both privately and at auction,” he said.
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