Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie's Europe, Russia and Middle East president, on why he once booked a seat to Japan in the name of Vincent van Gogh.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

How much time do you spend travelling?

I used to travel three days out of five when I started at Christie's 25 years ago - now I'm down to two, although it can be to anywhere in the world, as I'm chairman of the Impressionist department too. I'm off to Russia, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai over the next three weeks.

Essential travel item?

My mahogany gavel. I never know when I'm going to be asked to take a sale. It's unique and was given to me by my colleagues. Have gavel, will travel, you could say.

Favourite airport?

The VC Bird airport in Antigua. The first time I landed there, Viv Richards, who was then captain of the West Indies cricket team, was the baggage handler. The second time I had to go on to Anguilla. Just after takeoff, the pilot asked if I could navigate the plane while he finished his lunch. I've never found another airport like it.

In-flight entertainment?

Reading, but I also travel in small teams. I'm not a solitary traveller - going with other people is fantastic.

MacBook or PC, BlackBerry or iPhone?

I use an iPad so I can watch Christie's live, as all our auctions are streamed. We have 500 sales a year so I can keep track of what's selling and who's bidding all over the world.

Memorable trips?

Taking van Gogh's Sunflowers to Japan. I booked a seat for it next to me - under the name of Vincent van Gogh, of course. Another time, I took a Faberge egg on board. The captain was curious, so we had to open it. Inside was a singing bird, so the whole of our section got to listen to a tweeting Faberge egg.

Do you trust helicopters?

I love them. It's the ultimate way to travel, as you get a 360-degree view. Nice to Monaco early on a summer's evening is simply beautiful.

Worst ever travel experience?

A decade ago, I was sitting by the emergency exit en route to New York. Five minutes after takeoff, I heard a loud bang and then the wind started to wobble the plane like a bird. After turning back, we realised the emergency escape chutes had fallen out, leaving a big hole in their wake. They tried to put us on the same plane the next day but I refused.

Travel Misc

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