“After 20 years there, it was time for something new,” Fletcher told ARTnews.
Fletcher joins Christie’s after nearly two decades at Sotheby’s, where he most recently served as head of the Old Masters painting department in Europe. During his tenure there, he also helped develop the Old Masters market in Asia.
Amid the disruption to the market brought by the pandemic, Fletcher spearheaded a London evening sale at Sotheby’s in 2020 that featured a group of works spanning several centuries, including a Rembrandt self-portrait that sold for $18 million. The sale brought in a total of $198 million. Fletcher had also proven integral in helping the Old Masters department, whose sales had almost always been offered in person, transition its offerings virtual during the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, the Old Masters category at auction was growing stale, but as of late, efforts to spotlight paintings by big-name artists like Botticelli and Rembrandt have given the category a boost. Though sales of megawatt Old Masters paintings typically occur via private sales, auction houses began bringing trophy works to their marquee evening sales as a way to entice buyers during the pandemic.
In 2021, Christie’s generated $141 million from the category’s auction sales across its global headquarters. The house is now aiming to expand that number.
It remains to be seen whether or not Fletcher’s move will bring a cross-category flavor to his department at Christie’s, but Fletcher hinted at future developments in that regard, saying, “I think it is always key to creatively adapt to new circumstances as they arise.”