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A taste of things to come? A group of six Clarice Cliff conical sugar sifters that fetched $5000 as part of Christie’s recent online-only sale of 106 lots of Clarice Cliff from the collection of André Aerne. Modest estimates ensured a sell-out.

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The changes apply from this autumn to Christie’s London, New York and Paris operations, and come two months after the closure of its Christie’s South Kensington branch.

Fresh trio

Three new sales formats are being introduced, segmenting sales of decorative arts by target market and lot value.

‘The Collector’ is a new umbrella for Christie’s high-value English and European furnishing sales, targeting connoisseurs and timed to coincide with major fairs such as October’s TEFAF New York Fall. Under The Collector banner, sales of different categories, such as silver, ceramics and furniture, will be condensed into one week and run twice a year in London, New York and Paris.

‘Interiors’ sales, a relaunch of the cross-discipline format popularised by CSK, will run three or four times a year and feature around 500-600 lots valued at £800 and above.

Price is right

Orlando Rock, chairman of Christie’s UK, told ATG the Interiors format was “very important to the market, encouraging people to take their first step into collecting”.

He added that it was “extremely key for the trade that Christie’s offers things at all price levels”.

Finally, the ‘Exceptional’ sale, already held in London and New York and launching in Paris in November, will offer what Christie’s describes as “museum-quality pieces”.

Rock told ATG the changes overall meant that Christie’s “will be selling less lots in decorative arts but will be selling in all segments of the market”.

He added that the emphasis was no longer on thresholds but on selectivity. “To focus on thresholds is the wrong way to look at things,” he said. “We should be looking at curation.”

The new formats are “very much about what’s best for the market right now,” he said.

The changes were presaged in June by Christie’s chief executive, Guillaume Cerutti, when he said the 250-year old firm needed to “reinvigorate traditional collecting areas such as the decorative arts and find new collectors”.

ATG Comment

Christie’s announcement that it is redesigning its furniture and works of art sales represents a more wholesale consolidation of a process that has been going on for some years, writes Anne Crane.

You have to trawl some way through back catalogues to find a sale at King Street devoted entirely to clocks, ceramics or silver. For some years now the auction house has been grouping these traditional categories that were once a mainstay of its calendar into mixed-discipline auctions under titles such as Centuries of Style or 500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe.

The latest redefinition attempts to make these changes more coherent and consistent by rolling them out globally in the US and Europe. By grouping sales into three different, better-defined classes at specified times of the year, clients will have a clearer picture of what to expect.