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Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe Robin Woodhead said the salerooms, which will be located on Level Two of Olympia Two and will be self-contained, with access only from the main Hammersmith Road, will complement rather than conflict with fairs at the exhibition halls.

“We will be very sensitive to the fairs, knowing how important they are to the dealing community,” he told the Antiques Trade Gazette.
The floorspace, which doubles Sotheby’s London saleroom capacity, constitutes about four per cent of the overall Earls Court/ Olympia site.

Mr Woodhead confirmed that Bond Street would remain as the company’s principal international saleroom in London, with Olympia aiming mainly at the middle market, “but this does not preclude us from selling expensive pieces there”. He also promised “the same level of expertise” as at Bond Street.

Andrew Morris, whose family firm now runs the exhibition halls and Clarion Events, the exhibition organising arm of the business, told the Gazette that he initially received approaches from both Christie’s and Sotheby’s soon after he took over the halls just over a year ago.
Talks were interrupted by the US anti-trust investigation into alleged price fixing at the two auction houses, but Sotheby’s made a new approach about two months ago.

“It’s really just a landlord/ tenant relationship for us,” said Mr Morris, “and it certainly makes sense from a price and property standpoint. We can offer parking, warehousing, offloading facilities and storage, as well as key exhibitors and dealers nearby.”

He is pleased that the deal will bring even more of a focus for art and antiques to west London, saying Sotheby’s would bring the area “cachet” and would act as a “beating heart” for the complex during those times that fairs were not being held.

• Although the Gazette has strong evidence to suggest that Sotheby’s are closing their coins and collectors departments, and bringing scientific instruments back into the clocks department, Mr Woodhead would not confirm details of the redundancy and restructuring arrangements, saying that negotiations were continuing and there would be no announcements until the new year.