Okay, so it seems like Christie's is looking for any way it can to get into your wallet. Can you blame the auction house? Even with the occasional touch of good news, 2009 has generally been a dismal year, thanks to a global economic crisis that has brought the art market back down to Earth (hell, some would say six feet under it). Any business guru would tell you that when the market sucks, you need to find a new revenue stream. And, iPhone apps offer a brand new bandwagon to jump on, so why not?
This is a pretty wild development for a company that celebrated its tenth anniversary when the colonies declared independence (Christies was founded in 1766, if you couldn't figure it out). The iPhone will stand alongside the gavel, if all goes well, as the implement by which an auction is defined.
Christie's hopes that the bidding application will attract new money bidders to the auction house, ideally to pick up some of the lots that aren't moving and to possibly push prices up a bit. Think about it: if you're not into the auction scene, going to one of those things is a friggin' drag. Unless you move heaven and earth to get "approved," you're stuck in the back with the prolies – standing. That's no way to spend money! And, the dress code? If I hit it big, my first move would be to never wear a suit again. My jeans would lead to discrimination, so the iPhone app makes sense ... as long as there are wealthy versions of me out there (and I think there are).
Obviously committed to promoting how brilliant this idea is, Christie's draws a parallel to bids from its Christie's LIVE website, which accounted for 11 percent of the lots sold last year. There's no comment on what the website's been worth this year. But, let's be fair. The auction house is having trouble selling through any channel, so we can't blame innovation.