Among the high-value lots sold at Christie’s flagship auctions in New York last week was Vincent van Gogh’s (1853-1890) Coin de jardin avec papillons, an oil on canvas from 1887, that made $28.5m (£22.4m) on May 16.

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The cyber attack appeared to have been timed to maximise disruption as the auction house prepared for its flagship Modern and Contemporary art auctions in New York (May 14-18). However, with a collective estimate of more than $800m, Christie’s was determined to keep them in the diary.

Those who attempted to log on to were redirected to a makeshift site with page-turner catalogues and links to YouTube videos while online bidding was made available to those who had registered via emailed links. The website was restored on Monday May 20.

The auction house has not elaborated on the nature of the suspected cyber attack and it is not known if client data has been breached. However, the firm’s website lost much of its functionality on the evening of Thursday, May 9, and by the next afternoon viewers were being redirected to a placeholder page listing a ‘general enquiries’ email address and phone numbers.

Christie’s chief executive officer Guillaume Cerutti said in a statement last week: “As you may know, Christie’s has experienced a technology security incident. I want to assure you that we are managing this incident according to our well-established protocols and practices, with the support of additional experts. This included among other things the proactive protection of our main website by taking it offline.

“I am pleased to reassure you that our clients for these sales will be able to bid securely in person, on the phone or via Christie’s Live.”

The firm’s resilience meant eight live auctions in New York and Geneva took place much as scheduled. With the except ion of several withdrawals (including a monumental abstract diptych by Brice Marden estimated at $30m-50m) that Christie’s had guaranteed), results were generally solid.

The evening New York contemporary sale (May 14) was led by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 oil The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork In His Diet at $27.5m while the equivalent Modern sale (May 15) was topped by Andy Warhol’s 1964 Flowers hammered at $30.5m.

In a post-sale press conference, Cerutti called the results “very solid under the circumstances”. “I can’t remember a more challenging week than this one”, he told assembled journalists. “When something like this happens, you have to react very quickly. That’s what we have done. Otherwise, we would not have been able to continue what we’ve done this week.”

Questions regarding the nature of the ‘incident’ were rebuffed. “I apologise I can’t say more. It’s not opacity. It’s strategy.”