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Sotheby’s move photograph and decorative art sales to Paris

14 February 2011Written by ATG Reporter

SOTHEBY'S have announced that they are to make Paris their European centre for sales of 20th century decorative art and design and photographs.

With the company's rooms in the French capital as the exclusive European location for these categories, specialist London sales in these fields will now cease, leaving Paris and New York as the main selling centres.

Sotheby's decision is an extension of a policy that has seen the company adopt Paris as its European centre for stand-alone sales of silver and tribal art, following market trends.

The auctioneers used to hold bi-annual spring and autumn sales of photographs in London, but have not held an auction here since spring 2010.

Paris has a very active photographs market, especially since Reed Expositions' Paris Photo is now the main European fair in this field. Its UK sister fair, Photo-London, used to take place each spring but stopped after 2007.

A raft of Parisian auctioneers now schedule their sales to coincide with Paris Photo each November, capitalising on a time when all the big dealers and collectors are in town. Sotheby's will be part of that force, holding bi-annual sales in Paris in November and May in a department headed by Simone Klein, who joined the company in 2007 and oversaw the final sale of the celebrated Jammes collection in Paris the following year.

Similarly, with French Art Deco and post-war design forming such a strong financial plank of the current market for 20th century decorative art, Paris is an obvious location to sell work by the big French names, although New York retains its place as an international centre for this material.

Cécile Verdier, formerly at Christie's, who moved to Sotheby's in 2008 to run the Paris 20th century decorative art and design department, becomes European director and will now head up a team of Europe-based specialists for the Paris-based sales, the next one being scheduled for May 25.

Jeremy Morrison, Sotheby's London director for decorative art sales, now becomes Senior European business getter, based in London but travelling extensively.

Sotheby's London sales, which were held twice a year, had become the repository for a broader-based range of more decorative material, with most high-end Deco and Modernism going to Paris and New York.

While British decorative art may not have the overall commercial volume or value of its French counterparts, there are some blue-chip names in this field. Asked where Sotheby's would now sell the top Arts and Crafts by the likes of Morris, Voysey, Ashbee or Mackintosh, Mr Morrison said these would now go to Paris as work by these makers has a place in the international design lexicon.

But he also added that London would still be used to sell single-owner collections in the decorative art field if the content were better suited to this location.

By Anne Crane

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