We Are All Christies-Now

It is sort of mind-blowing to realize the digital shitstorm that has engulfed Christie’s the week before some of the year’s biggest auctions. I mean, I certainly didn’t need to hear from Todd Levin to know that the website had gone offline.

But it was only by clicking through the email sent from CEO Guillaume Cerutti that the scope of their predicament began to sink in. That email was, at least sent from the Christie’s email server.

But the link inside, though it reads christies.com, actually went to a page on the hosting company cloudfront [which Zachary Small also noted in the Times]:

Cerutti tries to be optimistic about all next week’s sales information being available online. It is nine static html front pages and ten pdfs, all hosted on yet more external domains. Shorthandstories.com redirects to shorthand.com, a web agency offering free—and premium—hosting. I’m guessing it’s either from Christie’s agency, or that it was in the bookmarks of whoever got tasked with making an emergency website. [UPDATE: I have heard from someone familiar with the situation that Christie’s is not, in fact, running a free emergency webpage, but is, like many other major corporations, an established Shorthand client. So this was thankfully not a lone webmaster in Rockefeller Center deciding between this and a WordPress.com site.]

But there’s nothing here, just an email link [which checks out; it’s not spoofed], a youtube link, and some pdfs for the catalogue and the conditions of sale. Which are hosted at yet another domain, christies-now.com:

Which is exactly the kind of domain name a scammer would use to impersonate Christie’s. So let’s check the domain registration:

Good grief, it’s registered anonymously at GoDaddy?? Are the catalogue pdfs I just downloaded going to drain my crypto wallet and sell all my NFTs to Malta now? I don’t think so. They are vanilla pdfs.

The six Google results for christies-now.com include some catalogue listings; a condition report; and at least two consignment presentations. Which all look like a domain set up on the fly by a client services team.

But which also looks like the kind of close-but-n0t-quite website an elaborate invoice fraud scheme would deploy. It really is wild how completely out of whack all this is, that it’s even possible to consider one of the world’s largest companies is running a billion-dollar operation on youtube and a high-end wix.com page.