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Its creation represents the most significant shake-up to the New York and global auction calendar so far as part of Christie's strategy of creating 'marquee' auction weeks.

Branded 'Classic Art Week', it will feature auctions of antiquities, sculpture and decorative arts as well as two Old Master sales which will move from their current January slot in the Big Apple.

Alongside these auctions, Christie's will also stage a new cross-category sale entitled Revolution which will comprise paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

According to the auctioneers, this 'centrepiece' sale will feature between 30 and 40 lots and will "explore the radical social, political and artistic changes that defined this period of history".

Speaking to ATG, Christie's global president Jussi Pylkkänen also confirmed that the 'Classic Art Week' banner would be adopted for the July auction series in London which will now coincide with the Masterpiece fair - the dates of which have now been shifted back.

Drawings in January

One auction not moving from the traditional January slot in New York is the drawings sale on January 28. This avoids a clash with the Salon du Dessin fair in Paris - the main international focus of this sector in April.

Sotheby's told ATG they would be maintaining their flagship New York Old Master series in January and have already scheduled an additional auction of Old Masters from the A Alfred Taubman collection on January 27.

However, the changes at Christie's are likely to have an impact on Old Master dealers, especially those who would normally travel out from Europe to attend the sales at both houses in a single week.

Many have become accustomed to the annual cycle of events where the strongest auction offerings of the year are hosted in New York in January and London in July.

This latest shift to the calendar follows Christie's decision to bring together their May New York auctions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary art into a single week for the first time. They believe that staging concurrent auctions in traditionally separated sale categories will yield benefit as it "mirrors the cross-category acquisition style favoured by today's leading collectors".

Pylkkänen said: "We have spoken to the collectors, art dealers and museum curators in these fields and so many are supportive of this new concept.

"April provides the perfect moment in the auction calendar. The series promises to invigorate interest in these wonderful fields that are the DNA of the art market."

Pylkkänen told ATG that the current changes would be permanent. Accepting that some members of the trade may question the move, he said: "Even the Old Master dealers who want to stick to January will eventually see the benefit of this. It will create more people looking at classical art and ultimately will help the market."

ATG Comment

If analysts predicted it would be Sotheby's who would undergo major changes with the appointment of a new chief executive in March, it is Christie's who appear the bigger market 'disruptors' at present.

Christie's departure from the traditional calendar with the new Classic Art Week will not please everybody. The January slot is attractive for Old Master dealers, in particular, who viewed it as good time to restock in advance of the year's major fairs. It fills an otherwise vacant slot in the diary and even the cold weather of New York in January is part of the experience.

Critics might say that this 'bringing together' of different auctions will reduce direct comparisons in areas where Christie's have been weaker over recent years - such as Old Masters and Impressionist & Modern art.

One London dealer told ATG that they would certainly consider making an additional visit to New York in April "depending on what's offered". This likely reflects the general mood.