The Art Market is Down. A Cyberattack at Christie’s May Make Things Worse. - Kanebridge News
Share Button

The Art Market is Down. A Cyberattack at Christie’s May Make Things Worse.

The auction house plans for sales to proceed, including for a Warhol ‘Flowers’ estimated at $20 million

By KELLY CROW
Wed, May 15, 2024 9:56amGrey Clock 3 min

Christie’s remained in the grip of an ongoing cyberattack on Tuesday, a crisis that has hobbled the auction house’s website and altered the way it can handle online bids. This could disrupt its sales of at least $578 million worth of art up for bid this week, starting tonight with a pair of contemporary art auctions amid New York’s major spring sales.

Christie’s said it has been grappling with the fallout of what it described as a technology security incident since Thursday morning—a breach or threat of some kind, though the auction house declined to discuss details because of its own security protocols. Christie’s also declined to say whether any of the private or financial data it collects on its well-heeled clientele had been breached or stolen, though it said it would inform customers if that proves to be the case.

“We’re still working on resolving the incident, but we want to make sure we’re continuing our sales and assuring our clients that it’s safe to bid,” said Chief Executive Guillaume Cerutti.

Sotheby’s and Phillips haven’t reported any similar attacks on their sites.

Christie’s crisis comes at a particularly fragile moment for the global art market. Heading into these benchmark spring auctions, market watchers were already wary, as broader economic fears about wars and inflation have chipped away at collectors’ confidence in art values. Christie’s sales fell to $6.2 billion last year, down 20% from the year before.

Doug Woodham, managing partner of Art Fiduciary Advisors and a former Christie’s president, said people don’t want to feel the spectre of scammers hovering over what’s intended to be an exciting pastime or serious investment: the act of buying art. “It’s supposed to be a pleasurable activity, so anything that creates an impediment to enjoying that experience is problematic because bidders have choices,” Woodham said.

Aware of this, Cerutti says the house has gone into overdrive to publicly show the world’s wealthiest collectors that they can shop without a glitch—even as privately the house has enlisted a team of internal and external technology experts to resolve the security situation. Currently, it’s sticking to its schedule for its New York slate of six auctions of impressionist, modern and contemporary art, plus two luxury sales, though one watch sale in Geneva scheduled for Monday was postponed to today.

The first big test for Christie’s comes tonight with the estimated $25 million estate sale of top Miami collector Rosa de la Cruz, who died in February and whose private foundation offerings include “Untitled” (America #3),” a string of lightbulbs by Félix González-Torres estimated to sell for at least $8 million.

Cerutti said no consignors to Christie’s have withdrawn their works from its sales this week as a result of the security incident. After the De la Cruz sale, Christie’s 21st Century sale on Tuesday will include a few pricier heavyweights, including a Brice Marden diptych, “Event,” and a Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982, “The Italian Version of Popeye Has no Pork in his Diet,” each estimated to sell for at least $30 million.

But the cyberattack has already altered the way some collectors might experience these bellwether auctions at Christie’s. Registered online bidders used to be able to log into the main website before clicking to bid in sales. This week, the house will email them a secure link redirecting them to a private Christie’s Live site where they can watch and bid in real time. Everyone else will be encouraged to call in or show up to bid at the house’s saleroom in Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan.

If more bidders show up in person, the experience might prove to be a squeeze. During the pandemic, Christie’s reconfigured its main saleroom from a vast, well-lit space that could fit several hundred people into a spotlit set that more closely evokes a television studio, with far fewer seats and more roving cameras—all part of the auction industry’s broader effort to entice more collectors as well as everyday art lovers to tune in, online.

Once this smaller-capacity saleroom is filled, Christie’s said it will direct people into overflow rooms elsewhere in the building. Those who want to merely watch the sale can’t watch on Christie’s website like usual but can follow along via Christie’s YouTube channel.

Art adviser Anthony Grant said he typically shows up to bid on behalf of his clients in these major sales, though he said his collectors invariably watch the sales online as well so they can “read the room” in real time and text him updates. This week, Grant said a European collector who intends to vie for a work at Christie’s instead gave Grant a maximum amount to spend.

Grant said the cyberattack popped up in a lot of his conversations this past weekend. “There’s a lot of shenanigans going on, and people have grown so sensitive to their banks and hospitals getting hacked,” he said. “Now, their auction house is going through the same thing, and it’s irksome.”



MOST POPULAR

What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
Property
I.M. Pei’s Son Speaks of His Father’s Legacy of Creating ‘Places for People’ Ahead of a Retrospective in Hong Kong
By ABBY SCHULTZ 12/06/2024
Lifestyle
EV Trade War Could Spread to Luxury Cars
By STEPHEN WILMOT 12/06/2024
Money
To Find Winning Stocks, Investors Often Focus on the Laggards. They Shouldn’t.
By KEN SHREVE 12/06/2024

These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .