Christie’s combines Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art departments into one

As part of a major corporate restructuring, Christie’s has merged its Impressionist and Modern and the Post-War and Contemporary Art departments into one division, known as the 20th and 21st Centuries department.

The new division is helmed by Alex Rotter, with Giovanna Bertazzoni as vice-chairman.

Alex Rotter has taken on the role as chairman of the new team

Giovanna Bertazzoni as vice-chairman

Rotter is a contemporary art expert who joined Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary team in 2016 after 16-year stint at Sotheby’s. Rotter then stepped up to co-lead the high-grossing department with Loïc Gouzer later in December that year, after the department’s then-chairman Brett Gorvy, whom Rotter was reported to, departed the company for a joint venture.

Alex Rotter (right) and Loïc Gouzer co-led the Post-War and Contemporary Art department 

Since then, the duo created multiple world auction records, with the most notable one being the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, which sold for a staggering US$450m (around HK$3.5m) in 2017. It has become the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Rotter took over the department in late 2018 following Gouzer's departure from the auction house.

Meanwhile, Giovanna Bertazzoni, the vice-chairman of the hybrid sector, was a longtime head of Impressionist and Modern Art at the firm.

Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti announced the merger of the two departments in a virtual preview last Friday (26 June) for its up-coming relay-style auction. Dubbed “ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century”, the sale is taking place on 10 July across Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York.

He said the consolidation is a natural outcome of the changing landscape in auction, as he believes that there is a continuum in the two areas and that collectors no longer think in categories. It also makes economic sense since 60% of clients in the two departments are actually the same group of collectors.

The two departments had long dominated the industry, having landed some of the most expensive art deals in auction history including Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, The Women of Algiers (Version 0) by Pablo Picasso and Nu couché by Amedeo Modigliani.

Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, the world's most expensive painting ever sold at auction