Artcurial’s Sales at High Speeds

Courtesy of Herve Poulain/ Artcurial

Auctioneer Hervé Poulain on art, auction houses and life in the fast lane.

Q: How did Artcurial become the auction house of the moment?
A: At just ten years, it’s a young auction house, but we do something different by creating a society through our exhibitions, bookstore and restaurant.

Q: You’re well-known as the gentleman auctioneer whose Art Cars merged racing with fine arts.
A: I wanted to participate in Le Mans 24 Hours in an original way. BMW would give me the car, I would provide the artist to paint it—Calder, Warhol, Lichtenstein. One year, before a race, Calder hugged me with his bear paws and said, “Hervé, win, but go slowly.”

Q: Does the thrill of the race have a place in the auction house?
A: My motto is “Death won’t get me alive.” I like these small moments with the potential for great change—an artwork’s destiny when the hammer falls, or a fast car when it goes over 186 miles per hour. The auto auction is on February 8 at the Salon, Rétromobile, Paris;