The Cu­ban Aro­ma of Ch­ris­tie's

Habanos - - Summary - BY / AMA­BLE MI­RAN­DA

FA­MOUS FOR THE MI­LLION-DOLLAR BIDS ON WORKS OF ART — IN­CLU­DING LEO­NAR­DO DA VIN­CI'S SAL­VA­TOR MUNDI, WHICH SET A NEW AUC­TION RE­CORD — THIS EM­PO­RIUM TREA­SU­RES A SIN­GU­LAR RELATION WITH THE IS­LAND AND WILL BE HELD RES­PON­SI­BLE FOR THE HU­MI­DOR AUC­TION DU­RING THE 22nd HA­BA­NOS FES­TI­VAL

The Ch­rist pain­ting was han­ging on the wall as if Leo­nar­do Da Vin­ci had just pain­ted it. Tho­se pre­sent at Ch­ris­tie's wat­ched it an­xiously. So­me wan­ted to know who would pur­cha­se the can­vas, which was first sold in 1958 at an auc­tion held in Lon­don for 60 U.S. do­llars. Half a cen­tury la­ter, it ca­me to light again in New Or­leans, in 2005.

Many fo­llo­wed by pho­ne the pe­cu­liar bid­ding war.

— La­dies and gentle­men: we mo­ve now to Leo­nar­do Da Vin­ci’s Sal­va­tor Mundi, the mas­ter­pie­ce of Cris­to Sal­va­dor (Ch­rist the Sa­vior of the World), which pre­viously be­lon­ged to the th­ree kings of En­gland, with a va­lue of 90 mi­llion, says the auc­tio­neer and the ex­pec­tant look in his eyes be­trays him.

— 95 mi­llion, the first of­fer is heard… — 110 mi­llion U.S. do­llars, anot­her in­ter­es­ted per­son pro­po­ses with the hand rai­sed, in a crowd whe­re you only see peo­ple in suits.

— "Do I hear 120? ..., we ha­ve 150 mi­llions on the left...the se­ller re­peats ent­hu­sias­ti­cally and then a sho­wer of of­fers ex­plo­des...200, 300, 400 mi­llions..."

The work of the Ita­lian ar­tist be­ca­me, on No­vem­ber 15th, 2017, the most ex­pen­si­ve pain­ting in his­tory, sold at an auc­tion worth 450 mi­llion U.S. do­llars. Ch­ris­tie’s (Ch­ris­tie's Auc­tion & Pri­va­te Sa­les) was res­pon­si­ble for such mi­les­to­ne.

— "Thank you all for your bids on Leo­nar­do Da Vin­ci’s Sal­va­tor Mundi. The pain­ting is sold! The auc­tio­neer sta­ted as if he had won the Battle of Le­pan­to.

Foun­ded in 1766, in Lon­don, En­gland, Ch­ris­tie's of­fers over 350 sa­les an­nually in over 80 ca­te­go­ries, in­clu­ding all areas of fi­ne and de­co­ra­ti­ve arts, je­welry, pho­to­graphy, wi­nery and ot­her lu­xury items, which ha­ve boos­ted its repu­tation of hol­ding the most fa­mous auc­tions sin­ce the 20th cen­tury.

Its foun­der, Ja­mes Ch­ris­tie, gai­ned repu­tation among the Bri­tish auc­tion hou­ses back then, in an en­vi­ron­ment mar­ked by the de­ve­lop­ment of art tra­des in the years af­ter the French Re­vo­lu­tion. Its pres­ti­ge kept it ali­ve all the­se years up to 1999, when it be­ca­me fully ow­ned by French Fran­co­is Pi­nault's Ar­te­mis Group. In 2014, Pa­tri­cia Bar­bi­zet — re­gar­ded by For­tu­ne ma­ga­zi­ne as one of the 50 wealt­hiest wo­men in the world — be­ca­me the chair­wo­man of the fa­med en­tity.

This brand has ex­hi­bi­ted and sold in its ten auc­tion rooms, works and per­so­nal be­lon­gings of outs­tan­ding crea­tors and per­so­na­li­ties li­ke Vin­cent Van Gogh, Pablo Pi­cas­so, Leo­nar­do Da Vin­ci, Rem­brandt, Na­po­leon Bo­na­par­te, Yves Saint Lau­rent and Dia­na of Wa­les, as well as ot­her works re­gar­ded as World's Cul­tu­ral He­ri­ta­ge.

With pre­sen­ce in 46 coun­tries world­wi­de, Ch­ris­tie's is pre­sent in wellk­nown ci­ties, pi­vo­tal in the pro­duc­tion and the ar­tis­tic he­ri­ta­ge; na­mely, Pa­ris, New York, Ro­me, Mi­lan, Ge­ne­va, Du­bai, Ams­ter­dam , Zu­rich, Mos­cow, Mum­bai, Shang­hai, and Hong Kong.

One of his most re­cog­ni­zed achie­ve­ments oc­cu­rred in the pa­rent com­pany of New York, which auc­tio­ned, in 2010, Pablo Pi­cas­so's pain­ting, Des­nu­do, ho­jas ver­des y bus­to (Nu­de, Green Lea­ves and Bust) for 106.482.500 U.S. do­llars, the hig­hest pri­ce paid in auc­tion at the ti­me.

This re­cord was fo­llo­wed, in 2015, by the auc­tion of Les Fem­mes d'Al­ger, by the icon of cu­bism, worth 179.4 mi­llion U.S. do­llars, and the afo­re­men­tio­ned can­vas Sal­va­tor Mundi, by Leo­nar­do Da Vin­ci.

The auc­tion hou­se, in ad­di­tion to be­co­ming a lea­ding spot in the art mar­ket world­wi­de, has a broad edu­ca­tio­nal plat­form, known as "Ch­ris­tie's edu­ca­tion". Ac­cre­di­ted by the Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity, UK, and the Sta­te Board of Re­gents in U.S., it has co­lle­ges both in the city of Lon­don and in New York. The­se edu­ca­tio­nal net­works ex­tend to hig­her le­vels in mas­ters, post­gra­dua­te di­plo­mas, bu­si­ness art cer­ti­fi­ca­tes and cour­ses re­la­ted to art from dif­fe­rent re­gions of the world and his­to­ri­cal era: Eu­ro­pean art (An­ti­quity, Midd­le Age, and the Re­nais­san­ce), Arts of Chi­na, Sty­le and De­sign (from the Re­nais­san­ce to Mo­der­nity), Mo­dern and Con­tem­po­rary Art and His­tory of the art mar­ket.

Ch­ris­tie's al­so ex­pan­ded in 2015 with the ac­qui­si­tion of the lu­xury real es­ta­te com­pany Great Es­ta­tes, which is na­med Ch­ris­tie's In­ter­na­tio­nal Real Es­ta­te sin­ce 2011. It has a wi­de net­work of af­fi­lia­tes and of­fi­ces in the U.S., Eu­ro­pe, Afri­ca, Asia, and Ocea­nia.

CU­BA AT CH­RIS­TIE'S

Alt­hough both are geo­grap­hi­cally dis­tant from each ot­her, the­re are ma­gi­cal th­reads lin­king Ch­ris­tie's auc­tion hou­se with Cu­ba and its ar­tis­tic pro­duc­tion. Works of re­now­ned plas­tic ar­tists from Cu­ba ha­ve been ex­hi­bi­ted and sold in their rooms. In 2016, it sold al­most 300 lots of Cu­ban pie­ces and rai­sed 22.76 mi­llion U.S. do­llars, one of its grea­test fi­gu­res for La­tin Ame­ri­can art.

Se­ven Cu­ban ar­tists ha­ve achie­ved re­cord pri­ces in auc­tion for their works, six mo­der­nists and one con­tem­po­rary, among them, Ma­riano Rodríguez's Pe­lea de Ga­llos (Cock­fight), sold for 1.08 mi­llion U.S. do­llars. Ot­hers joi­ning the list are Es­te­rio Se­gu­ra, Fi­de­lio Ponce de León, Carlos En­rí­quez, Re­né Por­to­ca­rre­ro,

Ro­ber­to Fa­be­lo, Víc­tor Ma­nuel, and Do­min­go Ra­mos. To this co­llec­tion is ad­ded Sur les tra­ces or Trans­for­ma­tion, by Wi­fre­do Lam, con­si­de­red the grea­test je­wel of the auc­tion and shows the im­pact of su­rrea­lism mi­xed with Afro-Cu­ban cul­tu­re.

But the con­nec­tions with the Grea­test of the An­ti­lles go be­yond pain­tings as new aro­mas emer­ge, es­pe­cially that coming from the fa­mous to­bac­co plan­ta­tions. The long aging Ha­bano is anot­her lin­king ele­ment. The of­fer of this ty­pe of to­bac­co is pro­mo­ted by Ch­ris­tie's and ot­her en­ti­ties wit­hin the sa­me in­dustry, which ha­ve ge­ne­ra­ted a real vin­ta­ge ci­gar mar­ket. The spe­cia­lists af­firm that a fifty years-old Ha­bano can gi­ve us a bou­quet of uni­que aro­mas and tas­tes.

Be­si­des, the pres­ti­gious auc­tion hou­se will arri­ve in the Ca­rib­bean Is­land thanks to the pre­sen­ce of two ex­pe­rien­ced pro­fes­sio­nals, Da­lia Pa­di­lla and Ma­ría Eu­ge­nia Ál­va­rez, who will be res­pon­si­ble for the fa­mous auc­tion of fi­ve hu­mi­dors be­lon­ging to the brands Cohi­ba, Mon­te­cris­to, Romeo y Ju­lie­ta, Par­ta­gás, and H Up­mann, which will be held du­ring the ga­la night at the 22nd edition of the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val — worth no­ting that this event rai­sed last year mo­re than 1.5 mi­llion Eu­ros that we­re allo­ca­ted to Cu­ban pu­blic health. Ch­ris­tie's will add anot­her touch of class, which le­vi­ta­tes in the air as the fiery and fra­grant fu­mes of the most pres­ti­gious to­bac­co mar­ket in the world.

WI­FRE­DO LAM'S "SUR LES TRA­CES" IS CON­SI­DE­RED THE GREA­TEST JE­WEL OF THE AUC­TION, SHO­WING THE IM­PACT OF SU­RREA­LISM MI­XED WITH AFRO-CU­BAN CUL­TU­RE

THE ART OF A GOOD AUC­TION

Talk about an auc­tion and that at­ten­tion is im­me­dia­tely ri­ve­ted on the ob­jects for which you are going to bid, on tho­se in­ter­es­ted in tho­se pie­ces or on the ex­tra­or­di­nary po­wer and adre­na­li­ne ge­ne­ra­ted by the act of com­pe­ting for so­met­hing that will go un­der the ga­vel. Not in­fre­quently, the auc­tio­neer's per­for­man­ce is overs­ha­do­wed. But it is that fi­gu­re, se­re­ne in its beha­vior, cer­tain in its pro­ce­du­re; the one that leads, li­ke a sharp em­cee, a tre­pi­dan­te spec­ta­cle who­se rhythm is mar­ked by the firm pul­se and the dry thump of the ga­vel.

In the act of an auc­tio­neer, the­re is a lot of tac­tics, in­tui­tion and skills. The­re must be as much pre­pa­ra­tion, ele­gan­ce and abi­lity to main­tain con­trol and con­nec­tion. The­se are so­me of the es­sen­tial keys re­qui­red to suc­cess­fully ma­na­ging such a sin­gu­lar event, in which the auc­tio­neer is un­doub­tedly al­so the star of the show.

That is well known for Da­lia Pa­di­lla and Ma­ría Eu­ge­nia Al­va­rez, spe­cia­lists of

Ch­ris­tie's and re­cog­ni­zed as one of the most fa­mous and pres­ti­gious auc­tion hou­ses of the world. They will be tas­ked with ta­king con­trol of the hu­mi­dor auc­tion du­ring the 22nd edition of the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val, a mo­ment for which they will be able to prac­ti­ce all their ex­pe­rien­ce, ta­lent and spe­cial con­nec­tion skills, sin­ce both star­ted at the sa­me ti­me at Ch­ris­tie's and all the auc­tions they ha­ve held ha­ve ma­de them to­get­her.

Re­gar­ding their par­ti­ci­pa­tion in the Fes­ti­val, which will su­rely be part of the un­for­get­ta­ble mo­ments that both ha­ve li­ved in their ca­reers, they say they feel very ex­ci­ted about it. "We will do everyt­hing we can to ma­ke the auc­tion a suc­cess. The bar is qui­te high, as the peo­ple who ca­me be­fo­re us as auc­tio­neers got spec­ta­cu­lar bids. We want to reach their brands and sur­pass them, if pos­si­ble," say the ex­pe­rien­ced wo­men, who will ha­ve un­der their the ga­vel the sa­le of fi­ve fa­bu­lous hu­mi­dors from the Cohi­ba, Mon­te­cris­to, Romeo and Ju­lie­ta, Par­ta­gás and H. Up­mann brands.

How would you rate the op­por­tu­nity to par­ti­ci­pa­te in such an im­por­tant Ha­bano Fes­ti­val auc­tion, es­pe­cially

“WE ARE HONORED TO BE A PART OF THIS IM­POR­TANT FES­TI­VAL. WE KNOW THAT THE HU­MI­DOR AUC­TION IS THEIR GRAND FI­NA­LE, AND

THE BIG­GER AND MO­RE SPE­CIAL THAT FI­NA­LE IS, THE BET­TER.”

as it is a cha­rity fun­drai­ser in which all the mo­ney is des­ti­ned for Cu­ban Pu­blic Health?

It is an ho­nor for us to be able to help this cha­ri­ta­ble cau­se and be part of this im­por­tant Fes­ti­val. We know that the auc­tion of hu­mi­dors is a very im­por­tant ele­ment of the event. We could al­most say that it is its grand fi­na­le, and the big­ger and the mo­re spec­ta­cu­lar as it gets, the bet­ter.

What is the main dif­fe­ren­ce when it co­mes to an auc­tion of hu­mi­dors? Is the­re a dif­fe­rent way to pro­ceed for each ob­ject or pie­ce?

Hu­mi­dors are uni­que pie­ces of art, com­pa­ra­ble to any scul­ptu­re or pain­ting, so we will pro­ceed to auc­tion them off in the sa­me way, alt­hough we as­su­me that the at­mosp­he­re will be mo­re fes­ti­ve and re­la­xed than in one of our auc­tions.

The uni­ver­se wo­ven around the best to­bac­co in the world can be very ex­ci­ting. What enth­ralls you the most about them?

It's very dif­fi­cult to choo­se, be­cau­se everyt­hing se­du­ces us: the con­text, the ori­gi­na­lity of the event, Ha­va­na...

From your pro­fes­sion and ex­pe­rien­ce, what ele­ments tell this auc­tion apart from ot­hers?

The qua­lity of the pie­ces to be auc­tio­ned, their ex­clu­si­vity, the spe­cial at­mosp­he­re in which the bid­ding will ta­ke pla­ce and the pas­sion of the par­ti­ci­pants.

What are the se­crets to be­co­me a good auc­tio­neer? What can't be mis­sing in an auc­tio­neer's per­for­man­ce?

A good auc­tio­neer has to draw the at­ten­tion of the pu­blic, pi­que the emer­gen­ce of bids with ele­gan­ce, in short, crea­te an at­mosp­he­re of con­tent spec­ta­cle. The auc­tion of hu­mi­dors at the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val has ex­ce­llent con­di­tions to do just that. It will un­fold in a lar­ger room than usual, but that's mo­re in­ter­es­ting.

Crist­hie's is no doubt one of the most pres­ti­gious auc­tion hou­ses in the world. How de­man­ding is it to re­pre­sent such a fa­mous ins­ti­tu­tion?

Ch­ris­tie's was foun­ded in 1766, so we're tal­king about mo­re than 250 years of his­tory. It has held the most im­por­tant auc­tions in his­tory. It has 53 of­fi­ces in 32 dif­fe­rent coun­tries and a do­zen sa­le rooms all over the world (one in Lon­don, plus a room in Pa­ris, New York, Mi­lan, Ge­ne­va,

Du­bai, Ams­ter­dam, Zu­rich, Mum­bai, Shang­hai and Hong Kong apie­ce).

Its pres­ti­ge is not only ba­sed on the auc­tion of pain­tings sig­ned by the grea­test ar­tists in the his­tory of art. Ch­ris­tie's sa­les are di­vi­ded in­to mo­re than 80 ca­te­go­ries, in­clu­ding everyt­hing re­la­ted to fi­ne arts, de­co­ra­ti­ve arts, pho­to­graphy, je­welry, wi­ne bottles, per­so­nal ob­jects, and the mo­re his­to­ri­cal ar­ti­cles of co­llec­tion... among many ot­her things worth going un­der the ga­vel.

So wor­king for Ch­ris­tie's is a res­pon­si­bi­lity, but al­so a sour­ce of pri­de.

We will do everyt­hing in our po­wer to ma­ke the event li­ve up to ex­pec­ta­tions, both of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vi­des va­lua­ble pie­ces for auc­tion, and of the com­pany we re­pre­sent.

We are all awa­re of the dif­fi­cult work of an auc­tio­neer, but really, how much res­pon­si­bi­lity falls on an auc­tio­neer when it co­mes to get­ting the best sa­le?

When auc­tions are easy and the­re are cus­to­mers bid­ding over lots, the­re is no pro­blem. As we com­men­ted, the really dif­fi­cult thing is to know how to read the fa­ces of the un­de­ci­ded and start off good bids on all lots, not only tho­se that arou­se the most in­ter­est. We want to get a good re­sult from the who­le set.

It is known that in auc­tions the­re are lots that arou­se hig­her ex­pec­ta­tions than the rest, but the­re are great mo­ments when sur­pri­se ari­ses over ot­her lots that are brought up. That's why, alt­hough the clients are the ones who ha­ve the last say, the auc­tio­neer, in ad­di­tion to lea­ding the event, has to ha­ve a bit of psy­cho­logy so that everyt­hing goes as smooth as pos­si­ble.

PHO­TOS / COURTESY OF THE INTERVIEWE­ES / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS ARCHIVE

Da­lia Pa­di­lla (left) and Ma­ría Eu­ge­nia Ál­va­rez, spe­cia­lists from Ch­ris­tie's.

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