Pylkkänen has been with the firm for 38 years and will take his final auction on December 7 at the Old Masters evening sale in London.
Christie’s chief executive officer Guillaume Cerutti said: “Jussi is a well-loved member of the Christie’s family. We are very grateful for his tremendous contribution to Christie’s, as a respected art specialist, a remarkable business getter and one of our best auctioneers. We wish him the best on beginning this next phase of his career as an independent client advisor.”
Pylkkänen said: “Christie’s is an inspiring place to work and has brought me great happiness across four decades working with the very best specialists in the market, at the very heart of the art world.
“I have been privileged to have the opportunity to befriend collectors all over the globe and auctioneer works of art of superb quality in every category in London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong.
“The art market continues to evolve and the extraordinary influx of buyers at the top of the market now offers me a unique opportunity to share my experience with a new generation of collectors who are keen to buy major works of art both privately and at auction.”
20th century art
Pylkkänen is one of the best recognised auctioneers. Educated at Oxford he joined Christie’s in in the mid-1980s. He worked in the Old Masters department and later became a renowned specialist in 20th century art.
He was director of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art department from 1995-2005 and appointed global president of Christie’s in 2014, after serving 10 years as president of Christie's Europe, Middle East and Russia.
Among the major sales he has presided over on the rostrum was Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017 which, after a fierce 19-minute battle, sold for a record $400m ($450.3m with premium).
He has also auctioned the famed collections of Elizabeth Taylor (2011), Peggy and David Rockefeller (2018) and Paul G. Allen (2022). The Paul Allen sale was the most expensive single-owner collection ever sold at auction.