PARTRIDGE Fine Art, the landmark Bond Street dealership in business for more than 100 years, went into administration this week.
MCR partners Andrew Stoneman and Matt Bond have been appointed
as joint administrators and are running the firm as normal while
actively seeking a buyer for the business, its assets and the lease
of the building itself.
The dealership is housed in possibly the grandest building in
Bond Street, a purpose-built four-storey listed building called the
Palace of the Arts, from where it has supplied the finest art and
antiques to the likes of Queen Mary, the Burrell Collection in
Glasgow and, perhaps most notably, the British Museum and the Getty
Museum in Malibu, California.
The company ran into trouble around five years ago, when then
chairman John Partridge unveiled what he dubbed the worst set of
trading figures in his 46 years at the helm.
Former auctioneer and ceramics specialist Mark Law, who already
ran porcelain specialists Albert Amor, quickly put together a bid
to take control of the company. With the backing of a consortium
including former Culture secretary David Mellor - a client of
Partridge - he formed Amor Holdings, an investment vehicle that
bought out the Partridge family in a £14m staggered deal.
Princess Michael of Kent was later appointed president of the
Reports indicate that Allied Irish Bank was the main creditor
and was offered 65p in the pound to settle the debt on July 17,
with Mr Law offering to make up the shortfall from his own funds.
The administrators were called in when no deal was struck.
Administrator Andrew Stoneman said: "This is a world famous
fine art dealer with a strong and loyal customer base. It is
too early to determine the reasons why the company has gone into
administration and we are concentrating on saving the business and
selling the store as a going concern, thus saving a piece of
history as well as the employment of those working there. We are
confident that there will be a significant amount of interest."
Although Mr Stoneman could not be drawn on the cause of the
firm's failure, general current trading conditions combined with
what are thought to be the high costs of running the four-storey
building are bound to have taken their toll.