Changes At Chrisite's Showrooms

Fellow appraiser Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP sent me an interesting article which reinforces the changes happening in the art market in general and specifically at Christie's. The article notes due to a soft European market and shifts to Asian markets, Chrisite's will close its second tier showroom in South Kensington, and also cut back on operations at the Amsterdam showroom, possible to two sales of 20th century art per year.

The NY Times reports
LONDON — Facing the challenges of a cooling market in Europe, Christie’s, the international auction house, said Wednesday that it intends to close its secondary South Kensington salesroom here at the end of the year and scale back its operation in Amsterdam. The proposed changes, part of a companywide review, could bring the layoffs of 250 employees, or 12 percent of the total work force, based mainly in Britain and Europe.

CSK, as the west London venue is known, has been holding Christie’s auctions of lesser-value art and collectibles since 1975. Last year, the salesroom mounted 56 live auctions, fewer than half the 125 it held four years previously. Christie’s Amsterdam held six sales in 2016.

“The art market is fast-evolving,” said Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s chief executive. “We have been looking at the globalization of the market in the last decade and need to be present and strong where the clients are.”

The layoffs also reflect the recent shift in economic power from Europe to Asia. Last year, 19 percent of Christie’s new buyers came from Asia; a further 39 percent were based in America. The auction house, which is based here, opened flagship offices and exhibition spaces in Shanghai and Beijing in 2013 and 2016. It will open another gallery in Los Angeles in April.

At the same time, Christie’s has expanded its program of online-only auctions for lower-value pieces. The company held 118 such events across 14 categories in 2016. Totaling 49.8 million British pounds, or about $60 million, these auctions represented just over 1 percent of Christie’s total sales for the year, yet generated a third of the company’s new buyers.

“The new clients are now coming to Christie’s through the online channel,” Mr. Cerutti said.

Auctions at Christie’s Amsterdam will be pared down to one or two sales of 20th-century art per year.
Source: The NY Times

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