After thirty-eight years with Christie’s, the auction house’s global president Jussi Pylkkänen will step down next year. Even before becoming Christie’s global president in 2014, he was one of the company’s most well-known figures. A native of Finland, Pylkkänen studied art at Oxford University and joined Christie’s in the 1980s as an expert in twentieth-century art. In 1995, Christie’s named him director of its Impressionist and Modern Art department, a position he held for ten years. He served another ten years as president of the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Russia division.
Whenever Pylkkänen was at the Christie’s podium, you knew it was a sale worth watching. He served as auctioneer in selling some of the world’s most valuable paintings, like Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at a 2017 Post-War & Contemporary sale and Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn at a 20th Century evening sale in 2022. He was also the auctioneer for the sale of some of the most iconic private collections ever to cross the block at Christie’s, including those of Paul Allen, Elizabeth Taylor, and David & Peggy Rockefeller. Pylkkänen will serve as auctioneer for the last time on December 7th at the London Old Masters evening sale. Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti called Pylkkänen “a respected art specialist, a remarkable business getter and one of our best auctioneers.” He is widely credited with helping bring new buyers and sellers to Christie’s, earning its place as the top auction house in the world. He also helped the company achieve its first billion-dollar week in 2015. In the future, Pylkkänen plans on working as an independent consultant and advisor. Though he won’t be leaving the field entirely, his absence will be felt across the art world. His expertise, business acumen, and charm at the podium are what made people want to go to Christie’s.