When A Game of Rock, Paper, Scissors Decided a $20-Million Auction Consignment
Art Business

When A Game of Rock, Paper, Scissors Decided a $20-Million Auction Consignment

Handshakes have long been crucial to art world deals, but in the spring of 2005, a different gesture determined the outcome of a multimillion dollar agreement. The Japanese electronics giant Maspro Denkoh Corporation had decided to auction off works from its art collection— described by Jonathan Rendell, a deputy chairman at Christie’s, as “a jewel in the crown”—worth about $20 million, during the Impressionist and modern art sales in New York. Unable to choose whether to consign the trove to Sotheby’s or Christie’s, company president Takashi Hashiyama put the decision in the auction houses’ hands: Representatives from each company would visit Maspro’s Tokyo office to compete in a game of rock, paper, scissors. The winner of the high-stakes match would be greatly rewarded. Maspro’s collection included a landscape by Paul Cézanne , Les grands arbres au Jas de Bouffan (1885–87), as well as works by Pablo Picasso , Vincent van Gogh , Paul Gauguin , Pierre-Auguste Renoir , Pierre Bonnard , Marc Chagall , and Camille Pissarro . Yet Hashiyama didn’t mind that the outcome of a game would determine these artworks’ fates. “It probably looks strange to others,” he told the Wall Street Journal . “But I believe […]

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