Kim Heirston at Christie’s Record Breaking Auction

by Lydia Marie Elizabeth in

Lydia Marie Elizabeth illustrates Kim Heirston at Christie's historic auction of the Leonardo da Vinci Salvator Mundi November 15 2017

As this year is already coming to a rapid close, I have begun musing back on my projects throughout 2017. 
One of my very favorite new clients this year is an Art Advisor in New York City. In addition to following her exciting and ever-elegant life via her instagram feed, she’s given me the opportunity of illustrating her jet setting off to the Auctions in Europe and at a historic auction at Christie’s just a few weeks ago, illustrated above. 
Kim Heirston specializes in post war and contemporary art and she asked me to sketch some ideas for a piece of her previewing the artwork at Christie’s ahead of the auction that would include the Salvator Mundi. Ultimately, this composition of the da Vinci being auctioned off is the final piece she decided to develop.  I actually didn’t expect her to pick this sketch, but I’m so glad she did, because there was so much energy and excitement to capture in this composition, and so many details to be able to include with purpose. I had so much fun doing it and wound up spending extra time just because I loved it. 

Because I had never been to an auction at Christie’s, I began my research for this project by watching the opening scene from Audrey Hepburn’s “How to Steal a Million,” watching the auction scene and the few moments of Audrey run around Paris in Givenchy- just to soak in the theatrical elements I remembered from the film. Then I turned to youtube videos of actual auctions, and eventually found Christie’s auctions to watch with Jussi Pylkkanen. I was very excited to hear he would be running the sale the night Kim was attending, because he seems like the most animated of all the auctioneers; leaning his torso as faaarrr out into the space beyond the podium as he can when he asks for a bid or occasionally making subtle jokes with his audience, like, “I hope they know how small this painting is, when the bidding price continues to climb. 
  I immediately added “Attend Christie’s Auction” to my bucket list. And if Jussi was auctioning, wouldn’t that be amazing? Yes. It would. 
Let me walk you around the details of this composition... 
 The Space- Christie's Auction House is filled with so much energy and excitement! People are literally connected to hundreds of places around the globe instantly communicating between continents to obtain priceless artwork. (Priceless before it sells!) If walls could talk right? Think of all the artwork these walls have patted on the back as the bidding wars ensued— what kinship! 
 The Crowd- I feel like these people, are my people! They love art, they speak art, they need art. How wonderful! I feel like I’m basically friends with everyone in the room. 
 The Artwork- The Salvator Mundi was the painting of the night- that became the painting of the century. Salvator Mundi meaning Savior of the world was the last privately held Leonardo da Vinci artwork. It’s long been thought that Leonardo did a painting of Christ, but it was only recently discovered. (You can read more about it here) The other artwork on the wall directly across from us as we gaze into the scene, is a Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, and a Franz Klien— all of which just so happen to be my favorites of the collection that was selling at this particular auction, and are important in their own rights. 

 Kim- illustrating Kim is always fun, because she is always so fashionable and looks poised at every turn. And while she’s based in New York, she isn’t afraid to wear bright colors. I decided to propose dressing her in a Lila Rose bright orange dress from the latest SS18 collection, and luckily Kim liked the idea for the sketch, and it worked perfectly with the composition. The colors tied right into the others, and the embroidery hem has a delicate cut out effect, which feels a little like the Cy Twombly painting above. 
I was thrilled to illustrate this significant scene of Kim at the auctions! I hope you enjoy the piece, and knowing all the detail that went into it! 

Kim posted an instagram from her spot in the room here.
And if you'd like to watch the auction of the Salvator Mundi, you can watch it here.