Inside Artcurial's winter auction

Monaco Life speaks to Artcurial Monaco Director Louise Gréther about the upcoming winter auctions at the Hermitage Hotel, her favourite pieces set to go under the hammer, and jewellery trends for 2020.
This week, Artcurial Monaco returns to the Hermitage Hotel for its winter auctions, after a three-year stint at the Yacht Club of Monaco, featuring an estimated €3 million worth of jewels.

Louise Gréther

Monaco Life: Can you tell us what we can expect this week at the Hermitage Hotel?
We have two watch auctions, the men’s at 6pm on Tuesday 14th and a wonderful collection of ladies’ watches on Thursday 16th at 2pm. The director of our watch department created this new sale called Le Temp est Féminin, which has been a fabulous success and features some amazing watches including Piaget, which is always extremely popular. There is a watch by Graff that Gerald Genta designed. Evelyn Genta, the Ambassador for Monaco in London and the wife of Mr. Genta, collaborated on this piece.
There are watches for all budgets, from a Piaget for €1,000 to a Patek Philippe circa 1959 estimated to be worth €250,000.
Patek Philippe

There is also a large collection of pocket watches, which do extremely well.
On Wednesday 15th there is a jewellery auction at 2pm and 6pm, and once again there will be many wonderful pieces. My favourite is a broach by Réne Boivin called Ombelle. It actually trembles and is estimated at between €30,000 and €35,000, but I think it will go for much higher than that. There are all sorts of easy to wear pieces, for both day and night, something for everyone I would say.
Who normally comes to these auctions?
Many people are locals from the area, we have regulars in the trade who fly down for the auction, and we have a significant number of people on the phone during the auction. This year, we have had a lot of interest from Chinese buyers, so we have a Chinese colleague in Paris who comes down for the week.
Broach by Réne Boivin, ‘Ombelle’.

Russians are also increasing the habit of buying at auction. In the beginning, they didn’t understand the auction process because it doesn’t exist there, my Russian friends tell me, so they were a little suspicious at first. But now we have a lot of loyal Russian clients who are very keen.
What impact do you see at auction when there is political unease, like there is currently?
Not so much on the buyer’s side, but sellers might want to wait if they don’t think the market is right. I have never seen any hesitation with the buyers, they have the money. They can spend €20,000 on a Hermes bag regardless of the global situation or what time of year it is. In fact, a lot of people ask us why we hold our auction in January after Christmas. It actually makes no difference whatsoever to the final results.
Who are the sellers?
A lot of people are selling because they simply can’t wear their jewels anymore. People of a certain age, in particular, say to me: “My grandchildren don’t want to wear these beautiful jewels because they are frightened that they are going to be burgled, or that they are too ostentatious.” It is all about the minimalist look these days isn’t it? Wealthy people are walking around in trainers, not dangling in Hermes bags and fabulous watches.
Hermès Kelly Sellier 32 bag

Can you predict any trends for 2020?  
There will always be demand for signed pieces – Cartier, Van Cleef, particularly the older models and unique vintage pieces; designers like Poiray, who has gone up in the world and is very sought after. Hermes bags continue to do well, but the smaller models are more popular now. With regards to watches – Piaget, Patek Philippe and Rolex will always hold their value.
Where have the pieces at auction this week come from?
This is the culmination of months of hard work, meeting with different sellers. We try very hard not to accept any items that have come through traders, but rather individuals through all of our European offices: Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Munich, Tel Aviv, and regional offices in France.
What are you particularly excited about this week?
We have a lovely collection from Italian actress Ornella Muti, who has consigned a part of her collection.
And I have two lovely clients from Monaco who are selling some wonderful pieces, so I really hope they do well. It is a personal connection for me, I like to see how the jewel goes from one person to another. Normally, the seller never knows who the buyer is unless they’re sitting in the auction room, which does happen sometimes. Jewels are very personal, they are often handed down through generations, and each carries a wonderful history.