Under a strict ‘by appointment only’ system, dealers (but not members of the public) were allowed to view at King Street in the run-up to the Apter-Fredericks sale of English furniture on January 26.
A number of auction houses – some of them criticised by local authorities for allowing trade viewings – had questioned how this was permitted under lockdown rules.
Auction houses are currently closed to the public in England, though staff who cannot do their jobs from home can work on premises. Click-and-collect and delivery services are permitted.
Government guidance for ‘business events’ in England states: “Meetings for work, training or education purposes should not take place unless the event cannot be delayed, where it cannot reasonably be conducted from home, and if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed Covid-19 guidance.”
Office workers should “work from home where possible”, “reduce face-to-face meetings” and “remind visitors to wear face coverings”.
A Christie’s spokesperson told ATG: “Christie’s isn’t holding views in the usual way but is undertaking business meetings where reasonably necessary, as permitted by current government guidelines, under Covid-secure protocol.
“A one-to-one view with a representative from the trade is a business meeting and so permissible.”
As reported in ATG No 2477, dealers were given the opportunity to view the Apter-Fredericks sale by appointment but, under Covid- 19 restrictions, no members of the public could attend.
Accordingly, the lots in the sale came under the legal provisions that give ‘consumers’ (a private buyer rather than a dealer) the right to cancel a purchase within 14 days of receipt without giving any reason.
Christie’s terms and conditions for online sales state that this ‘right to cancel’ is available ‘if you are a consumer and habitually reside in the European Union and the seller is not a consumer’.