Wilkinson spent over 30 years at Christie’s and led its specialist auctions at South Kensington including the Out of the Ordinary sales where lots would include the aforementioned items as well as, on occasions, Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible costumes or a crown modelled by Kate Moss.
Two years ago he joined Bonhams to develop its Home & Interiors and Design sales.
Wilkinson says his “number-one love is creating a sale out of nothing” and is joining Sworders to do just that. He will officially start the new job on May 1 and will begin immediately on preparing for Sworders’ debut Out of the Ordinary auction to take place early next year. This will be followed by an Animals in Art sale in February/ March.
He will work closely with the 20th century art and design department led by John Black, and says: “My love is creating specialist sales and we will launch a range of these from next year.”
For Wilkinson, the appeal of Sworders is that “it is close to London and has a magnificent saleroom. We have exciting prospects ahead”. He said a focus on specialist sales reflects the trend of “how people are decorating now” because they are “looking for stand-out pieces”.
Schooling was drawn to Wilkinson for his “fantastic track record”, adding that Sworders is keen to do more specialist sales.
Sworders, which employs around 30 people, is also searching for a valuer to operate from central London and is considering opening a London base.
Wilkinson argues that a drawback of working at big auction houses is having to turn away items below a certain value such as £1500. At Sworders he can be more flexible and expects to accept items of £300-500 upwards.
His move is tinged with sadness following the announcement of the planned closure of Christie’s South Kensington, where he has many friends.
“It is so sad what is happening,” he says. “I remember many of the wonderful sales there.”