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Auctioneer and Neumeister CEO Katrin Stoll at the firm’s recent auction. Image credit: Astrid Eckert courtesy of Neumeister.

Auction house watchdog Conseil des Ventes Volontaires (CVV) wrote to firms on May 14 updating them on the latest edict from government.

CVV chairman Henri Paul stated that minister of justice Nicole Belloubet on May 11, 2020 had authorised “the reopening of the auction rooms”.

He said firms have the “responsibility to comply with the instructions given by the health authorities” and listed a number of recommendations to ensure “on all occasions, physical distance” between people at premises is maintained.

As reported in Antiques Trade Gazette in issue 2441 the Drouot auction centre aims to reopen on May 25. Art and antiques dealers are also able to reopen.

In a statement Drouot said the centre will be open between 11-7pm and anyone wishing to attend should register with the relevant auction house beforehand. To allow space to social distance the pace of sales has been spaced and exhibitions such as the street art fair District 13 have been temporarily suspended.

Alexandre Giquello, president of Drouot, said: “I am looking forward to the reopening of Drouot next week. The activity of our subsidiary Drouot Digital during containment illustrates the evolution of the art market towards digital. The resumption of physical sales in Drouot will more than ever make it possible to coexist the soul of auctions that has animated this place since 1852 with the tools of the 21st century.”

In Germany, Munich auction house Neumeister (pictured above) held the first live auction in Germany following the lockdown. No more than 20 visitors were allowed in the saleroom and specialists wore face masks.

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Staff manning the phone lines at a recent Neumeister auction. Image credit: Astrid Eckert courtesy of Neumeister.

The May 5-6 sale included 200 lots including pictures, jewellery and works of art.

In England, auction houses and art and antiques dealers expect to be able to reopen premises in June.