Two climate protestors briefly disrupted a Christie’s auction in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday morning, November 11. Mun Chong and Jim Hicks of the climate emergency group Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) New York branch took to the stage during the Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper sale, interrupting the auctioneer with a vocal warning that there will be “no art on a dead planet” and demands to “end fossil fuels now.”
In the video shared on XR’s social media, Chong and Hicks held up banners emblazoned with the group’s logo, featuring the letter “X” stylized as an hourglass inside of a circle representing the planet, prompting the auctioneer to pause the sale of Fernand Léger’s “Femme à la feuille (recto); Études (verso)” (1930) and step away from the podium. As a few auction attendees in the salesroom began filming, a handful of Christie’s workers surrounded the protesters and escorted them off the stage. The auction continued shortly afterward.
“The matter was quickly and peacefully resolved thanks to the Christie’s security team and the sale resumed without incident,” a spokesperson for the auction house told Hyperallergic in an email.
In an official XR statement about the disruption, Chong said that “wealth equals power.”
“There is no room for climate complacency,” Chong continued. “The ecosystems we rely on are collapsing. So, I ask those in power, where are your priorities? Is that the legacy you want to leave?”
In the same statement, Hicks expressed that disruptions like this weren’t what he wanted to be doing, “but it’s necessary because we’re in a crisis.”
“While the affluent continue to spend extravagantly, the poorest are already experiencing the impacts of climate breakdown,” Hicks elaborated. “The reality is that even the wealthy are at risk.”