A Christie's spokesman told ATG: “We are proposing to stop sales at CSK but this is subject to consultation and not concluded for at least a month.”
The saleroom on Old Brompton Road was established in 1975 as the auctioneer's secondary London premises alongside its flagship King Street rooms.
Traditionally offering a broader mix of material at a lower price-point, Christie’s South Kensington once staged some of the most popular sales in London. However, the company has gradually reduced its specialist departments over the last 10 to 15 years in favour of multi-disciplined ‘Interior’ sales as well as online-only auctions.
While the number of auctions staged at CSK has halved in the last decade, an example of the company’s direction of travel came last year when it dropped regular auctions of vintage posters, despite being a leading player in the field, with the in-house specialists leaving the firm.
In a statement released earlier today, Christie’s gave no indication about further staff departures but a spokesman said: “At this stage no departments are confirmed as closing and a priority is retaining the best and broadest base of expertise.”
Christie’s statement carried the heading: “Christie’s adapts business model to maintain market leadership following strong online-only art sales growth”. It mentioned that the firm is undertaking a global review to “to better serve the evolving art market, a growing international client base and enable ongoing investment in the company’s world leading digital art sales platform”.
The statement referred to a “current proposal to offer a single destination to collectors in London”. This would involve the King Street premises offering a “fuller, broader range of sales at a wider range of price levels”.
The statement also mentioned the company will be reviewing its Amsterdam operation and it seems likely that it will cut back its sales calendar in The Netherlands to focus on Modern and Contemporary art.
Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said: “Christie’s continues to adapt to meet the needs of our clients and plan for the future as every business must. Following our success in leading the development of online-only art sales and growing our global client base through our investments in Asia and other regions, we are considering shifting more sales into our key regional hubs and online. This means we are now considering consolidating into one sales site in London and changing our sales offering in Amsterdam.”