George Bailey, one of Sotheby’s leading figures, with over 34 years experience at the auction house, has taken a step outside the company by launching an online-only auction house this month.
Mr Bailey, who joined Sotheby's in 1979, has
held posts as managing director of Sotheby's Chester, managing
director of Sotheby's Europe and more recently worked for their
business development team. He will still be employed by Sotheby's
but only to look after "a few top-end clients".
He will no longer be involved as an
auctioneer at Sotheby's.
His new venture, The Auction
Room, launched with Lucinda Blythe, who also worked at
Sotheby's, will focus on the middle range, a sector of the market
from which Sotheby's appears to be moving in favour of high-end
"A lot of this mid-range material is going
to sell online," predicts Mr Bailey.
Based in West End offices on Dover Street,
he has recruited a team of six consultant specialists, most with
auction house experience, covering half-a-dozen categories:
jewellery, watches, stamps, Chinese ceramics and works of art and
Middle Eastern contemporary art.
Above: George Bailey keeps a role at
Sotheby's as he launches an independent online auction
"We will try to stay in markets where things
look good online and start with things that are easy to handle," he
told ATG. He also feels the online system will prove a good place
for clients to sell the less valuable elements of an important
Sales will begin in early June and, as well
as being able to bid online and view via a fully illustrated
catalogue list available two weeks before the sale date, clients
can attend a public 'bricks and mortar' view prior to the
Fees are described as competitive, with a
flat rate vendor's commission and no additional charges for
illustration or marketing, or insuring against loss, while buyers
pay a staggered rate of 17.5% on the first £20,000 and 12% above
Mr Bailey also hopes that his new venture will be able to
deliver value by cutting auction deadlines and settlement dates and
reducing the process to four or five weeks.