Patrick Drahi.

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Drahi spearheads Sotheby’s change

Its new chief executive Charles Stewart is reported to have announced that the company will be split into two main divisions: Fine Arts; and Luxury, Art and Objects. The Fine Arts division will include Contemporary, Impressionist, Modern British, Latin American Art, Old Masters and 19th century works and will be led by its current Fine Art chairman Amy Cappellazzo.

The Luxury, Art and Objects division will comprise categories such as jewellery, wine, watches, books and Asian art and it is searching for a head for this section.

As part of the restructure around 30 senior staff are reported to have left the firm.

Ivory Act appeal: going ahead in 2020

A lawyer acting for a group challenging the Ivory Act has said the Conservatives’ win of a House of Commons majority in the recent general election will have no bearing on the outcome of a Court of Appeal hearing in the New Year.

The Ivory Act 2018 and its near-total ban on trade in antique ivory is the fruition of a Conservative Party manifesto pledge made in 2015.

“The general election result won’t make any difference to how the Court of Appeal judges will view the case,” said Richard Pike, a partner at Constantine Cannon, the lawyers acting for dealer and collector group FACT.

He added that the desire among MPs for an ivory ban had been “cross-party”.

The lawyer’s comments come as DEFRA, the defendant in the appeal, has requested the hearing to happen before the end of March 2020.

FACT’s case is partly based on EU law. Having won a parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going ahead with his party’s plans for Brexit to happen by the end of January 2020.

Dealers and collectors formed the FACT company to challenge the act and won the right to appeal a High Court judicial review which had found in favour of DEFRA, the act’s sponsor. The appeal questions the ‘proportionality’ of the Ivory Act 2018, based on EU and human rights law.

Six troughs now stolen in London

A further two Victorian animal troughs have been stolen in south London, following four that went missing in September. Locals have been calling for help in stopping the spate.

The missing troughs are from Penge, Bell Green, Downham and Chislehurst, with the latest two taken from Coombe Lane (pictured above) and Widmore Green all in south London.

Terence Meredith, who tends Coombe Wood garden and plants in the Coombe Lane trough, said: “It was a solid granite trough so weighed a great deal.

“These thieves are well prepared and have a market somewhere for them. I fear for the half-dozen other troughs in the borough.”

Australian auction house rebrand

The auction house trading as Sotheby’s Australia has reached the end of a 10-year licensing agreement and will be renamed Smith & Singer from January 1, 2020.

The last Sotheby’s Australia branded auction was Important Jewels held in Sydney on December 4, 2019.

Details of the first Smith & Singer auctions and exhibitions will be announced in the new year.

Rybolovlev court case ‘dismissed’

According to Reuters, a court in Monaco has dismissed a case in which art dealer Yves Bouvier was accused by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev of fraud and money laundering.

Monaco’s appeals court had ordered the closure of a preliminary investigation that local authorities had opened into Bouvier in 2016 in response to a complaint brought by Rybolovlev.

In a statement issued on December 12, lawyers for Rybolovlev said the appeals court ruling was “not final”, and added: “We challenge it and will immediately appeal to the Court of Revision.”

Most read

The most viewed stories for week December 12-18 on

1 Sotheby’s wins court case over disputed ‘Frans Hals’ painting

2 Charity shop win from selling donated ring at auction

3 Jeremy Lamond’s last sale at Halls

4 New faces at Bonhams and West Dean College: The latest movers and shakers

5 Five auction highlights including 17th century silver candlesticks, Louis Vuitton trunk and a Hans Coper vase

In Numbers


Limited edition Bockholt Gauge 1 Danish State Railways 4-6-2 loco and tender which sold for £11,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium inc VAT) to a private collector at the SAS Trains Galore sale, against an estimate of £2000-3000.


The hammer total of the two-day Trains Galore sale at Special Auction Services (SAS) on December 17-18. It was the last auction in the current saleroom, before SAS moves in January to Plenty Close, off Hambridge Road, Newbury. That site consolidates three premises into a 18,000sq ft warehouse and is close to Newbury Racecourse railway station and nearer to the M4.