Sotheby's New York spring sales set for London, without an audience

With New York City yet to move out of its lockdown, Sotheby's said it will hold its modern and contemporary art sale on June 29 in London instead

Sotheby's big spring auctions, which generate billions of dollars in sales, will be held remotely and without an audience this year because of coronavirus, the auction house giant announced Friday.

With New York City yet to move out of its lockdown, Sotheby's said it will hold its modern and contemporary art sale on June 29 in London instead.

The auction, its first without an audience for an event of this magnitude, will be broadcast live on the internet, with bidders able to call Sotheby's specialists in New York, Hong Kong and London or bid online.

"In my nearly 30 years in the market... it's never happened this way but neither has this pandemic," said Amy Cappellazzo, chairwoman of Sotheby's fine art division.

"But thankfully we are fully equipped with exceptional technology to allow such things to happen in ways that they could never happen 5, 10, 15 years ago," she added.

Highlights are set to include Francis Bacon's "Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus," which is estimated to fetch over $60 million.

Clyfford Still's "1947-Y-No.1" is estimated at between $25 million and $35 million.

Sotheby's and Christie's 20th Century spring auctions sales usually occur at the same time, but Christie's announced earlier this month that it would hold its sale on July 10 this year.