OK, so maybe you can’t afford to buy a “souvenir” at a New York art auction. That doesn’t mean you can’t rub elbows with the people who do.
Both of the big houses, Christie’s (pictured here, near Rockefeller Center) and Sotheby’s over on the Upper East Side, show off the goods at open houses the day or two before the big sales. So lace up your fancy shoes and waltz in like you might bid on a little something to match the couch back home.
You can get a free catalog at the front desk, which explains a little bit about each work and its estimated sale price. Then roam the galleries and admire the artwork (and, of course, the other people there to see it). If you’re feeling ambitious, memorize a few phrases like “scattered visual lexicon” and “deconstructed framework of abstraction.”
The glitziest crowds gather for the Contemporary Art sales, which are like clubby reunions for the rich and famous. The major players – or, more likely, “their people” – do their homework months in advance, but you can usually hear some gossipy chatter in the galleries. Everybody is there for a reason, often to check out the competition or scare it away.