Sotheby's Olly Barker behind the scenes
Chrome decoration

Oct 2020

Chrome Productions And Sotheby's Usher in a New Era in Global Auctioning

$363.2 million realised over three sales, across three continents, in real time, on one evening.

Last Monday, June 29, 2020, saw Sotheby’s and Chrome Productions come together to deliver one of the most ambitious events ever to take place in the world of auctioneering. For the first time ever, and during a global pandemic, Sotheby’s successfully conducted and broadcast their marquee Evening Auctions in New York exclusively online and via phone bidding – realising a spectacular total of over $363 million in sales. Realising that the global Coronavirus pandemic would present significant challenges for the usual model for marquee auctions, Sotheby’s approached their long-time production partner Chrome to begin re-imagining the future. Together – and in only two months – they developed and implemented a solution that successfully came to fruition on Monday evening. Working with Chrome Productions, the Sotheby’s auction was live streamed in real time via their website and broadcast the first hour of the night live on Cheddar TV – the first time such an auction has been on a cable TV network.

Bespoke ‘studios’ were set up for live telephone bidding in Hong Kong, New York, and London, and for the first time in its history, the New York sale was conducted remotely by Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker, who was also fielding bids, not in New York, but from a control booth in Sotheby’s’ office in London. Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and the evening’s auctioneer, said, “To have achieved what we did, and in the space of just a few months is absolutely phenomenal. In the early days of Covid-19, when we were challenged to re-imagine the live auction experience, I don’t think any of us could have imagined we would go on to create a live television event of this magnitude, with a beautiful new auction format and production. Despite my own history as an auctioneer, I will admit that it didn’t seem possible even a few months ago to orchestrate these marquee New York sales via London and around the world. Something this complicated came with its own set of challenges and risks, but the team at Chrome truly distinguished themselves, both in their creative vision and in their execution of the event. I am immensely proud of what we have chieved together.”

Chrome was able to quickly assemble a global team of 49 across London, New York, and Hong Kong to consider all aspects of the event, from the design of the sets in each location, to the technology solution including production equipment, camera selection, studio and networking infrastructure across New York, Hong Kong, and London. In addition, Chrome also worked with Sotheby’s to create over 180 film assets that featured in the 5-hour long broadcast, as well as promotional content that was fed out on Sotheby’s’ social media channels to drive viewers to the main event. “We love to work with clients like Sotheby’s who constantly push the boundaries, and encourage creativity and innovation at every level,” said Joel Mishcon, Founder and CEO of Chrome Productions. “We were asked by Sotheby’s to deliver a global event in real time, across three continents – and had just two months to do it from concept to completion. The team at Chrome stepped up to the challenge, and to see the success of this event is testament to the collaborative approach and hard work that everyone involved has put in.”

The three live global auctions were the first of their kind to take place on one evening and incorporate both phone and online bidding in real time. The $363.2 million realised is testament to this, showcased by the Francis Bacon triptych that eventually went under the hammer for $85 million after a 10-minute bidding war between a telephone bidder in New York and an online bidder in China. Mishcon continued, “We always knew it was going to be tough to replicate the excitement in the auction room over a remote and online feed; however, the feedback we have received has been overwhelming with hugely positive responses from both existing clients and a whole new generation of art lovers reached by the stream. Delivering this event has enabled us to showcase our abilities on a global scale, and we are looking forward to doing more events and productions like this in the future.”

Share this post

More News