Loic Gouzer’s Imaginary Collection

loic gouzer
Gouzer is famous in the art world for his audacity and boyish charm, but he’s not without his player haters. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)
Marion Maneker
June 18, 2024

Loic Gouzer, the former Christie’s rainmaker behind the $450 million sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, reached for a sailing metaphor when I asked him about the vicissitudes of the current art market, which he calls a “technical market.” Gouzer recalled racing with his father in Geneva’s famed Bol d’Or, the annual sailing regatta down to one end of Lac Leman—and back. The Bol d’Or is famous for its wide range of sailing conditions, where boats rigged to exploit the faintest whisper of wind will, in the course of the race, have to quickly reconfigure themselves to withstand a howling squall, then revert to light and variable conditions. “Great sailors don’t do well on the lake,” Gouzer explained. “Anyone can do well when the wind is perfect.”

Gouzer, of course, is as familiar as anyone in the business with how art trends, like the weather on Lac Leman, can change with a moment’s notice. In 2016, he was christened “the daredevil of the auction world” in a glowing New Yorker profile chronicling his themed sales at the height of the art market in 2014 and 2015; the following year, he would sell the da Vinci for a still unfathomable sum. But Gouzer, in his late 30s at the time, also needed a change. At the end of 2018, he left Christie’s, where he was co-chairman of Post-War and Contemporary art.