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Auctioneer behind 'Salvator Mundi' sale leaves Christie's

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Loic Gouzer, who led the record-breaking 2017 sale of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, will step down as co-chairman of Americas postwar and contemporary art at Christie's by year's end, the auction house announced on Monday.

[New York] Loic Gouzer, who led the record-breaking 2017 sale of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, will step down as co-chairman of Americas postwar and contemporary art at Christie's by year's end, the auction house announced on Monday.

During his seven-year tenure, Mr Gouzer developed a reputation as an innovator ready to take big risks to clinch history-making sales mixing contemporary and historical works.

The 500-year-old da Vinci painting depicting Jesus Christ went under the hammer for US$450.3 million in November 2017 - the most expensive work ever sold at auction. It is the only known work by the artist to still be held in a private collection.

Mr Gouzer also presided over a 2015 sale of Pablo Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O') for the then record sum of US$179.4 million.

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And last month, he led the sale of David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) for US$90.3 million, an auction record for a living artist.

Mr Gouzer, a 38-year-old who spent his childhood in Geneva and is an avid Instagram user, gave no indication of his future plans.

"Those who know me best know that my two great passions in life have always been art and the environment," he said in a statement.

"I intend to spend the next few months concentrating on conservation and climate issues before coming back to the art world with a new project."

In 2013, Mr Gouzer had organised a sale with friend and actor Leonardo di Caprio that raised US$39 million for environmental initiatives.

AFP