2020 Global Auction House Summit
Follow along with Taylor Eichenwald, NOAG's Director of Marketing & Public Relations, as he heads to the 2020 Global Auction House Summit in Paris from Jan. 21 - Feb. 6. Presented by Invaluable, the Summit will explore current trends in the auction industry. Check back every day for updates on the Summit and the sights around Paris!
Friday, January 31, 2020
Over the next week, myself (Taylor Eichenwald, Director of Marketing & PR), Jelena James (Director of Fine Art) and Tessa Steinkamp (Director of Auctions) will be visiting Paris to attend Invaluable’s third annual Global Auction House Summit. I invite you to follow along with us both here on the blog and on our Instagram story as we share the sights from our trip and meet with other leaders in the auction industry. My intention for this blog is to share my take on interesting moments and thought-provoking topics from the Summit, while also sharing fun moments along the way.
I have been packing (or at least attempting to) over the last couple of days, preparing for cold and rainy weather in Paris. There is never enough room to pack everything I want to bring, so tonight it is time to edit down what I am bringing.
Friday is a travel day - we land in Paris Saturday morning, so keep an eye out for my next post.
Saturday, February 1
Jet Lag is Real
After connecting in Washington, D.C., we arrived in Paris at 7am. The flight was just under 7 hours, which was not quite enough to get a good night’s sleep before arrival. We got to the hotel and decided to try and beat the jet lag and stay busy. I typically am able to adjust to the time difference, but this trip has been more difficult. Regardless, a lack of sleep cannot keep me from exploring a new city!
The morning was cold and rainy, but there is something very beautiful about Paris in the rain.
Our first stop was the Grand Palais, which had an El Greco exhibition, the first major exhibition of the artist’s work in Paris. I have always loved El Greco because his paintings, especially the later works, have a certain modernity to them. You can see how his stylistic choices influenced later artists, such as Jack Levine and Cezanne. From the colors he uses to the impressionistic depictions, his work was so ahead of his time. I am including an example of one of the later pieces to demonstrate this point.
I love portraits, so my favorite part of the exhibition was the portrait section. My favorite portrait was one he painted of his son.
After the Grand Palais, we decided to walk across the street to see the permanent collection at the Petit Palais. I have never been so surprised walking into the museum. First, the interior is absolutely incredible. The tall ceilings, stunning stained glass windows and a beautiful courtyard all were a sight to be seen. We wandered through the first floor and enjoyed works by Courbet contrasted alongside a late 20th century Chinese artist. Then viewed the incredible decorative arts and furniture collection showcasing 18th and 19th century pieces. As we wandered towards the exit, we went downstairs only to discover we had only hit the tip of the iceberg. The downstairs contained works from Rembrandt to Galle and everything in between. I walked into the museum blind, not knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised. What a collection! If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it.
As we walked outside, the rain cleared and it turned into a beautiful day! Perfect weather to explore the city.
After leaving the Petit Palais, we wandered around the Marais, my favorite neighborhood in Paris and where I stayed last time I was here. The little streets and old buildings are extremely charming. And the people watching! We bopped in and out of shops before walking back to the hotel along the Seine. We passed Notre Dame to see the damage and continued along the river until we reached our hotel, just adjacent to Place Vendome. Along the walk we gazed into the windows all of the high-end antique stores and galleries.
Once back at the hotel, I freshened up and headed to an early dinner near the hotel. After a couple of glasses of French wine and a heavy French meal, I went straight to my bed!
Sunday, February 2
The Flea Market
My Sunday was spent wandering the shops at Marche aux Puces, the famous Paris flea market. Seeing the range of antiques and art was so fun. To have such a concentration in one place is almost unbelievable. We wandered and wandered and wandered some more before stopping for lunch at a café in the market. After lunch, we continued our trek, determined to see as much as we could! I’ve loved art and antiques since a young age, so I was in heaven. Sifting through each booth looking for treasures was an experience I will never forget. I may have left with a couple little things to remind me of my trip!
We took an afternoon dessert break at a charming little cafe dedicated to Edith Piaf tucked away amidst the aisles of antiques. Packed with locals and tourists, the little cafe was like something out of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The waitresses were running around screaming orders over the loud music. We even got to hear a rendition of La Vie en Rose!
We left the market at 6pm and battled traffic back to the hotel before quickly refreshing ourselves and heading to the nearby Ritz Hotel or dinner.
Entering the Ritz is like walking into a palace. The level of service, the beautiful décor and the ambience is something of a lost art. The different bars and restaurants around the hotel make it so people are constantly walking through the lobby. It was the perfect place to people watch!
After a spectacular dinner, we headed back to sleep and get ready for the first day of the conference tomorrow.
More to come… stay tuned!
Monday, February 3
Meetings, meetings, meetings....
I woke up this morning and walked around the neighborhood before an afternoon of back-to-back meetings. My first meeting was over lunch, just around the corner from our hotel. I met with several people from Barneby's, an online platform that lists auctions from all over the world and drives traffic to auction houses. I learned about all of the exciting new developments happening within their company and how we can use Barneby's to further our reach. At NOAG, we are constantly looking for ways to maximize the exposure of our sales for our consignors.
Following my meeting with Barneby's, I hurried back to my hotel to meet with the founder of ArtBrain, a web-based service that uses artiicial intelligence to provide tailored suggestions to our clients. I hope to implement this service this year to better inform our clients of items they may be interested in. I don't want to reveal too much yet, but I'm excited to explore this technology further.
Following that meeting, I headed to a meeting with Invaluable to discuss how we can improve the bidding experience on our website, as well as improvements to our auction management system. Again, there are many exciting things on the horizon for NOAG, so stay tuned for an exciting year ahead!
I know that was a lot off vague tesasers, but trust me, you will not be disappointed!
Following a very busy afternoon, we headed downstairs for a welcome reception. It was fun to see fellow auctioneers and people from the auction industry that I have met in past years, as well as new faces. After a bit of socializing and networking, we headed to dinner at Cafe de la Paix. Located near the Paris Opera House, Cafe de la Paix is one of the oldest and well known restaurants in the city. The hand-painted ceilings, gilded details and elegance are unrivaled and make it a must-see if you are in Paris! The restaurant was opened in 1862 and was inaugarated by Empress Eugenie. Over the years, the restaurant has been frequented by the "who's who" of the world, including Victor Hugo, Charles De Gaulle, Edward VII and more. Dining in such an historic institution was a treat!
After dinner (and dessert!), I was ready to head to bed and rest up before a full day of speakers at the conference.
Tuesday, February 4
The Summit Continues
Today began with an enthusiastic welcome by Rob Weisberg, CEO of Invaluable, who discussed the key needs and challenges facing the auction industry today. These include maintaining a personal, hands-on approach as the auction industry shifts more and more online, improving e-commerce solutions, finding effective ways to limit the reliance on the print catalogue, streamlining operations and finding consignments. We then heard from Cecile Verdier, the President of Christie's, France. She discussed the challenges facing the industry as well and how we can create conversations and push the industry forward.
We then attended a demonstration of the ARTMYN scanner. ARTMYN generates interactive 5D images and movies providing an emotional experience on screen. The scanning process extracts the DNA of artwork by acquiring its unique features – making the original unforgeable. I hope to be able to utilize this technology at NOAG to offer our consignors and clients an unparalleled experience. One of the biggest issues all of us in the industry share is that clients need more information about what they are buying. This technology allows the potential buyer to literally interact with the piece they are interested in bidding on. This technology continues to become more and more accessible and will push our industry forward in very positive ways.
After a networking lunch, we listened to a conversation with Bruno Vinciguerra, Executive Chariman at Bonhams, and Rob Weisberg, CEO at Invaluable. Bruno shared his perspectives on the evolution of the auction business and changes in the market since 2008. Bonhams operates in an interesting space because it is not generating the revenue of the two largest houses, Christie's and Sotheby's, but still has a very strong presence throughout the world with salerooms in London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and Edinburgh. They offer items at all levels of the market, but most successfully at the $3,000 to $1 million range. Vinciguerra took over as Chairman in 2018 and is working to increase margins, expand into new categories and better serve customers. Exploring non-traditional categories is not only a way to create "buzz", but also attracts new, younger clients.
The afternoon continued with a discussion of art law. The conversation focused on a new European anti-money laundering law that requires auction houses to verify the identity of any person spending over $10,000 and then register them with the government. There were concerns about the large burden placed on auction houses, many of which operate with a relatively small number of employees.
The evening ended with a lively networking dinner in the hotel's ballroom. It is always great to have a chance to chat with others in the industry in an informal setting.
Wednesday, February 5
The Last Day