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Christie’s described the closures and redundancies as part of an “ongoing strategic review of our worldwide sales schedule”. The company will retain a single representative in Denmark and Norway. The redundancies will be added to those of the 21 staff who left Christie’s New York last month, and an unspecified number of employees who will be shortly laid off in London.

Christie’s Athens annual sale (of Greek Art) was worth an average 1 billion drachmas (roughly £1.8m) – not enough for accountants at Christie’s, who are now expected to follow Sotheby’s policy of holding Greek art sales in London. However, the majority of lots at Sotheby’s Greek art sale on October 18 returned to collectors in Greece, and with new legislation governing the export of national art expected to be ratified by the Greek parliament next month, the native art market could be left in a stronger position after Christie’s withdrawal. “I will be sorry to leave,” said one Athens employee, “but I can see more possibilities now for me as a dealer or consultant in Greece.”