Loic Gouzer, who has served as Christie’s co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art for the past seven years, announced he will depart from the auction house at the end of the year. A press release did not make note of his next post, but reached on the phone by ARTnews, Gouzer stated that he has “no comment” on the matter—and that his next move is “six months off.”
Gouzer has been a major force in the art market. In a 2016 profile in the New Yorker, he was characterized as a “daredevil” for his attention-getting work at Christie’s. In 2013, he made headlines by organizing an environmental-charity auction called “The 11th Hour Auction,” which raised $38.8 million for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
In an official statement through Christie’s, Gouzer said, “Those who know me best know that my two great passions in life have always been art and the environment. I intend to spend the next few months concentrating on conservation and climate issues before coming back to the art world with a new project.”
Gouzer became known at Christie’s for curated auctions that daringly combined contemporary art with historical material and saw huge results, such as $179 million for Picasso’s Les Femme d’Algers (1955) three years ago. He has a developed a reputation as a rainmaker who took risks in valuing paintings that ultimately paid off. In a 2014 profile of Gouzer in ARTnews, collector Frank Moore said, “Some people come up with an idea of what they think is high but it’s ridiculous because they don’t know the market. Loic knows the market and he knows that there’s a certain market for an artist and a certain market for certain works by that artist and that those two markets are separate.”
Former Christie’s head of contemporary Brett Gorvy, who is now a partner at Lévy Gorvy gallery, was the one to bring Gouzer on board at Christie’s. Reached by phone this morning, he characterized Gouzer as “a maverick and a team player” who is notable for his “eye, his vision, and his creativity.”
“If there is one person who has truly transformed the auction world in the past decade,” Gorvy added, “it’s him.”
The news of Gouzer’s departure comes following an erratic few years for Christie’s; and just last month, the resignation of Francis Outred, its head of postwar art, was made public.
Guillaume Cerutti, the house’s chief executive officer, stated in the press release, “Loic has brought much to Christie’s during his seven years with us, and his name will remain associated with several great ideas and projects in his field of expertise, postwar and contemporary art, and beyond. On behalf of the company, I wish Loic the very best with his future ventures.”
Gouzer oversaw numerous high-impact sales at Christie’s, most recently the sale of David Hockney’s record-breaking Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which fetched $90.3 million. He concluded in his statement, “I will always be immensely grateful to Christie’s and to my wonderful colleagues who believed in me and honored me with their confidence and friendship. I have no doubt that the postwar and contemporary art department, under the enlightened leadership of Alex Rotter and our talented team, will continue to be the leading player in the auction world.”
Sarah Douglas contributed reporting.