Christie’s global president Jussi Pylkkänen will step down from his role next year in order to work as an independent art adviser, Christie’s chief executive Guillaume Cerutti announced Tuesday (24 October).
The Helsinki-born auctioneer, a mainstay at Christie’s sales for decades, will take part in this year’s autumn and winter auctions. He’ll take the Christie's rostrum for the final time in London during the Old Masters evening sale on 7 December. For States-side Pylkkänen super-fans, the final opportunity to watch him wield the gavel will come on 9 November, at Christie’s evening sale of 20th-century art in New York.
"Jussi is a well-loved member of the Christie’s family," Cerutti said in a 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 adviser.”
Jussi has worked at the auction house in some capacity since the 1980s, and in 1995 became director of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art department, a position he held for a decade. He later served ten years as Christie’s president for Europe, the Middle East and Russia before his appointment as global president in 2014.
Pylkkänen is one of Christie’s most recognisable auctioneers. In 2017, he sold Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi after a 19-minute bidding war for $450.3m (with fees), making the painting the most valuable artwork of all time. He also served as auctioneer during the 2022 sale in which Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) fetched $195 million (with fees). He was also auctioneer for the auction house's sales of some of its most high-profile single-owner collections, including those of Paul Allen in 2022, Peggy and David Rockefeller in 2018 and Elizabeth Taylor in 2011.
“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 a statement.
He added: “The art market continues to evolve and 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."
Auctioneers and advisers play musical chairs
Pylkkänen's move keeps the revolving door spinning between high-level posts at major auction houses and private advisory. In 2013 Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's top auctioneer at the time, resigned; four years later he was hired by the family of late publishing mogul S.I. Newhouse to advise on the handling of his prized art collection, much of which was ultimately consigned to Christie's.
After Meyer's departure, Sotheby's acquired the boutique advisory firm Art Agency, Partners, bringing Amy Cappellazzo, Allan Schwartzman and Adam Chinn into the fold. Schwartzman departed in 2020 to start his own advisory firm, Schwartzman&. Cappellazzo left the auction house to form the 360-degree advisory firm Art Intelligence Global in 2021, joined by another former Sotheby's rainmaker, Yuki Terase.
And after Sotheby's chairperson Patti Wong announced her departure from the auction house in late 2022, she launched the Hong Kong-based advisory firm Patti Wong & Associates with two fellow former Sotheby's colleagues.