■ The year begins with writ and counter-writ as buyers and sellers claim non-payment and misrepresentation in the sale of Partridge Fine Art in 2005.
■ Big changes are promised at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris following arrests last year. The familiar Col Rouges porters lose a monopoly that has lasted 158 years.
■ American comic books reach the $1m mark when issue 1 of Action Comics (Superman) is sold by a New York dealer. Two days later the first Batman comic makes $900,000 at auction.
■ New York dealer Lawrence Salander pleads guilty to 29 counts of grand larceny, fraud, forgery and other charges.
■ Northumberland auctioneer Jim Railton is fined £1000 for offering an Edwardian cabinet full of birds’ eggs.
■ In a summer of unprecedented fair activity following the demise of Grosvenor House, London has a spectacular new show, Masterpiece.
■ A number of lots of furniture remodelled and embellished by Dennis Buggins for dealer John Hobbs are withdrawn from high-profile sales. In December, Dreweatts announces it will be selling Hobbs’ stock, including transformed pieces catalogued as such, and marked with a John Hobbs brand.
■ The autograph stockbook of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema is discovered in a box of 1960s girlie mags in Shropshire.
■ An oak and gilt-bronze coffer on stand which makes a surprise £52,000 at Sworders is later identified as one of four display cabinets specially made for the great 19th century collector William Beckford.
● Snow continues to cause disruptions in the New Year and again in December.
● An Icelandic volcano halts all air traffic.
■ The English furniture market shows signs of collapse. The Annual Furniture Index drops by 8% – its largest fall in 40 years.
■ Sotheby’s announces it will sell a rediscovered 16th century Benin ivory mask consigned by the family of a key participant in the controversial Punitive Expedition. The mask is estimated at £3.5m-4.5m but is later withdrawn after complaints.
■ The TEFAF report suggests China – which in 2009 had overtaken France to become the world’s third-largest market – has pushed UK into third sport in the global art market with a 23% share.
■ The newly appointed Art & Antiques Professional Group Board at the RICS unanimously votes to stand down in protest at the failure ‘to seek a meaningful solution to long-standing problems’.
■ Huge quantities of antique silver and gold are scrapped as bullion prices reach record levels. Silver briefly touches an all-time high of £30.13 an ounce. Gold hits a high of $1862 per ounce in August.
■ Bonhams unveils proposals for a £30m redevelopment of its Bond Street headquarters as regional salerooms are closed.
■ Hundreds of union members and supporters protest outside Sotheby’s Manhattan saleroom following the lockout of most of its portering staff.
■ The Andy Warhol Foundation dissolves its authentication board after it is subject to criticism and numerous lawsuits
■ Founded in 1846, New York dealership M Knoedler & Co closes amid rumours of sales of forged paintings.
● UK VAT rises from 17.5% to 20%.
● Arab Spring protests flare up.
● Osama bin Laden killed.
● UK mobile internet use reaches 50%.
● Prince William gets married.
● News of the World closes in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal.
■ The Artist’s Resale Right is extended to apply to the works of deceased artists up to 70 years after their death.
■ The Prospero collection of more than 600 ancient Greek coins is sold by Baldwin’s in New York for $25m. A new record for a classical coin is set by a gold stater from Pantikapaion at $3.25m.
■ Chinese hardstone carvings worth millions are stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Similar thefts occur in Durham and Norwich.
■ Beset by allegations of non-payment and credit card irregularities, Berkshire salesroom Cameo Auctions stops trading.
■ The only one of four versions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream in private hands is sold at $107m at Sotheby’s New York – the highest ever price for a work of art at auction.
■ A record for Picasso ceramics is set at the Madoura studio collection sale at Christie’s South Kensington. Grand vase aux femmes Voilées from an edition of 25 sells for £650,000.
■ Nearly one in five of all sales by LAPADA dealers are now made online says the association’s latest survey.
■ Galleries in Cork Street are informed that leases will not be renewed because of plans for redevelopment.
■ The first Frieze Masters event is held in London’s Regent’s Park.
■ $15m worth of assets belonging to Sheik Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani, the world’s most prolific collector, are frozen by the High Court. The court hears a claim for $19.7m relating to coins bought at the Prospero collection earlier in the year.
■ Raphael’s black chalk drawing Head of an Apostle sells for £26.5m – a record for an Old Master drawing.
● Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
● London Olympics and Paralympics.
● First case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), caused by a coronavirus, is reported.
■ More than two years after its ‘sale’ the so-called Bainbridge’s vase is sold by private treaty in a deal brokered by Bonhams.
■ In association with two Chinese partners, a group of UK regional auction houses conducts a sale of Western fine art and antiques in Xiamen Freeport. A promised follow-up event does not materialise.
■ Surprise changes are made to the interpretation of the ‘worked items’ derogation. Tiger claw jewellery and mounted tusks are among the objects that can no longer be sold. Other items, such as marine turtle shells and sperm whale teeth, now require Article 10 licences.
■ Two trade initiatives, Master Paintings Week and Master Drawings London, combine together for the first London Art Week.
■ Stanley Gibbons approaches Noble Investments, owners of auction houses Dreweatts and Bloomsbury and coin and medal specialist Baldwin’s, to explore the possibility of a £42m takeover. The deal is done by November.
■ Bill Mastro, once the biggest name in US sports memorabilia, admits to a federal judge he trimmed the world’s most valuable baseball card to make it appear in mint condition.
■ London Mayor Boris Johnson opens Bonhams’ new headquarters; the firm holds its final sale in its Chester premises.
■ A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, printed in Massachusetts in 1640, becomes the world’s most expensive book, selling for $12.5m (£8.1m) at Sotheby’s New York.
■ Sotheby’s closes Noortman Master Paintings, the Old Master dealership it acquired in 2006, citing ‘shifts in the collecting tastes of clients’.
● UK loses top AAA credit rating for the first time since 1978.
● Same-sex marriage becomes legal in England and Wales.
● Alan Turing is given a posthumous pardon.
● US government mass surveillance programme is leaked by Edward Snowden.
■ The US says it will no longer permit commercial imports of African ivory of any age while domestic trade will be limited to objects more than 100 years old.
■ A previously lost Fabergé egg is found by Mayfair jeweller Wartski in the American Midwest. After its sale to a private collector, the Third Imperial Easter Egg goes on display in London for four days.
■ After more than 30 years of legal wrangling the Hungarian government pays €15m for seven pieces from the Sevso treasure, a spectacular hoard of 5th century silver once offered for sale at Sotheby’s in 1990.
■ Consigned by Northampton Borough Council, an Old Kingdom painted limestone statue sells for £14m at Christie’s. Museums that sell items are threatened with sanctions.
■ Stanley Gibbons acquires the dealership Mallett in a £8.6m deal.
■ The Art Fund reaches its £2.7m target to safeguard the future of the Wedgwood collection.
■ Christie’s defends the imposition of a 2% ‘success fee’ – an extra charge to vendors when a lot sells above estimate.
■ Sheik Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani, once considered the world’s biggest private collector, dies in London aged 48.
■ Odalisque in Red Pants by Henri Matisse (which was stolen off the wall at the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas and replaced with a forgery) arrives back in Venezuela after being recovered in an FBI sting operation.
● More flooding in England as rail links to the south-west are cut off.
● Scotland votes against independence from the UK.
● Events are held to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War.
● UK’s hottest year since records began.
■ Three former bosses at Cameo Auctions are found guilty of nine counts in a case brought by West Berkshire Council Trading Standards. Owner Jonathan King is later sentenced to five years in prison for fraud.
■ An investment scheme built around the €850m Aristophil collection of historical manuscripts collapses. Thousands of investors lose out in an alleged pyramid scheme as 135,000 manuscripts are impounded by the French authorities.
■ The 1955 Picasso oil Les femmes d’Alger (Version O), sold in 1997 for $29m, returns to Christie’s NY. It brings $160m (£108m), the highest price ever for a work of art at auction.
■ The Conservative Party manifesto repeats pledge to prohibit all trade of ivory in the UK.
■ Following a further review of its regional operations, Bonhams announces the closure of its Oxford salerooms.
■ Billed as ‘the best collection of English clocks that have come to market in living memory’ the Tom Scott collection is offered by Winchester dealership Carter Marsh. The Medici Tompion priced at £4.5m is among many sales.
■ The Hôtel Drouot welcomes the news that swathes of former staff will face charges relating to stolen property. A total of 41 ‘Cols Rouges’ portering staff plus six Paris auctioneers will stand trial.
■ A tribunal rules that pitch rentals at showgroud fairs must charge VAT.
■ Marco Forgione becomes CEO of BADA.
■ Dealers back a decision to shorten the next Olympia fair from 11 to 7 days.
■ SJ Phillips plans to leave Bond Street after one and a half centuries.
■ Adam Partridge sells the Firth collection, a £900,000 collection of British studio pottery displayed in a £90,000 bungalow in Leeds.
● £14m of jewels are stolen from Hatton Gardens.
● Record low UK inflation.
● Paris agreement on Climate Change.
■ Online sales of art and antiques reach $4.7bn or 7% of the global market value.
■ Rare books dealer Maggs Bros leaves Berkeley Square for Bedford Square.
■ BADA continues its modernisation by selling its Knightsbridge premises.
■ A trio of well-known UK dealers are forced to destroy ivory objects they attempted to import into the US for the Original Miami Beach Show.
■ Two leading Parisian dealers are arrested following the identification of furniture fakes in Versailles.
■ In the wake of mounting terrorism on French soil, the Braderie de Lille, Europe’s oldest brocante, is cancelled.
■ The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) forms a partnership with Artvest and announces two new fairs – TEFAF Spring and TEFAF Fall – at the Park Avenue Armory, New York.
■ The ‘final rule’ on the ivory trade is passed on Capitol Hill effectively banning the import of antique ivory into the US.
■ The first BADA live auction, designed to beat the auction houses at their own game, falls flat. The promised second event does not materialise.
■ Geoffrey Godden, author of 30-plus books on British ceramics, dies aged 87.
■ Stanley Gibbons, parent company of Dreweatts, Baldwin’s, Bloomsbury Auctions and Mallett, posts losses of £29m after uncovering ‘fundamental errors’ in its previous accounts.
● The UK votes to leave the EU.
● David Cameron quits as PM.
● Donald Trump elected US president.
■ A consultation begins on a near blanket ban on the sale of antique ivory in the UK.
■ The Advertising Standards Authority decides estimates in auction catalogues are misleading if they fail to include the buyer’s premium alongside the guide price. Guidance is issued on how auction houses should properly present commissions.
■ In an ‘end of an era’ moment Christie’s South Kensington closes.
■ The British Hallmarking Protection Alliance fights a rearguard action against the practice of British hallmarking overseas.
■ The Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report says that just 51% of items ‘sold’ at auction in China and Hong Kong are actually paid for.
■ The Masterpiece fair at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is sold to Art Basel owner MCH Group with plans to take the brand to other key global markets.
■ The troubled saga of Stanley Gibbons plc and its ‘interiors division’ reaches a conclusion with the sale of Dreweatts for £1.25m to Gurr Johns. Mayfair-based dealership Mallett, bought for close to £8m in 2014, closes after a final stock sale.
● The UK triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
● A snap UK general election results in a hung parliament.
■ Administrators wind down Australian auction house Mossgreen after 400 people and businesses are owed money totalling over Aus$12m.
■ The Fine Art Society ends its 142-year stint on Bond Street.
■ The Ivory Bill 2018 is passed. Only a small number of exemptions for antiques and musical instruments are proposed.
■ The David and Peggy Rockefeller collection is dispersed at Christie’s. The white-glove sale posts a new high for any single-owner collection at $832.6m (£612m).
■ The General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (better known as GDPR) passes into law bringing a deluge of ‘opt in’ emails and the occasional doomsday prediction.
■ The mammoth disposal of the Aristophil collections of historic manuscripts begins in Paris. It may take as many as 300 sales to disperse the 135,000 manuscripts.
■ ATG reports that the ivory elements of a Chippendale commode are replaced with celluloid to ease its export from the US for sale at Christie’s in London.
■ Works of art are caught up in an escalating US-China trade war. Chinese art and antiques are listed among goods subject to President Trump’s proposed 25% import duty.
■ Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks retires as the firm is sold to private equity group Epiris.
■ The recently discovered pair to the famous ‘Bainbridge vase’ is sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 3 for HK$130m (£12.75m).
■ A boycott of AbeBooks is held by more than 580 dealers. Nearly 3.8m books are temporarily removed from the site in protest at Abe’s decision to pull out of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Korea and Russia. Abe backs down.
● Greta Thunberg starts her school strike.
● More than half the world’s population (3.9bn) is connected to the internet.
■ Ahead of Brexit, the trade federation Conseil National du Marché de l’Art (CNMA) publishes an open letter to the French government calling for changes to stop France’s art market losing out.
■ A 10-year-long legal tussle to decide who should pay the Artist’s Resale Right in France concludes. The Supreme Court ruling means that the levy can now be transferred to buyers.
■ Bonhams becomes the first auction house to introduce a fourth tier of buyer’s premium charges: a new threshold of 27.5% is added.
■ The Getty Museum emerges as the mystery buyer of 17 of the 40 cameos and intaglios consigned for sale to Christie’s New York by the heirs of Roman art dealer Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965). The 17 gems cost a total of $7.65m with premium.
■ Sussex police hunt for ram raiders responsible for a £830,000 jewellery heist at the Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair.
■ French businessman and art collector Patrick Drahi takes Sotheby’s into private ownership after 31 years with a $3.7bn deal.
■ The BADA sells a majority stake in its annual fair to dealer Thomas Woodham-Smith and stand builder Harry Van der Hoorn.
■ Marco Forgione, BADA’s first-ever CEO and a key architect of modernisation, steps down after four years.
■ For the first time, the summer’s series of London book and map fairs are aligned to run in the same four-day stretch.
● Brexit political chaos results in Boris Johnson becoming PM.
● UK sets target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
■ ATG carries its first Covid-19 story as fairs are cancelled in Hong Kong.
■ A year of closures and postponements follows the arrival of a global health emergency. In March, TEFAF in Maastricht is truncated after a positive Covid test among the exhibitors while The Open Art Fair shuts after two days.
■ While the premises of ‘non-essential businesses’ are closed to the public, auction houses thrive via ‘live online only’ sales and timed online auctions. Online versions of ABA’s Firsts, Tribal Art London, Art & Antiques for Everyone and TEFAF are launched.
■ Sotheby’s introduces a so-called ‘overhead’ premium – a new 1% flat fee for buyers applicable on all lots.
■ Lockdowns prompt the focus on the home and, for some at least, the spare hours and the disposable income to make improvements. The middle-market bounces.
■ The 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (known as 5AMLD) becomes law, requiring auction houses, art galleries and dealerships to conduct stricter due diligence on buyers who purchase ‘works of art’ above a threshold of €10,000.
■ Lobby group FACT, which sought to overturn the Ivory Act 2018, is denied a final appeal by the Supreme Court.
● Covid-19 pandemic dominates events.
● UK temperatures reach 37.8OC in a blazing hot summer.
● The UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.
■ ATG reveals the UK will follow existing Artist's Resale RIght (ARR) rules under the new Brexit trade deal.
■ Latest figures show that Sotheby's ($4.8bn) edged ahead of Christie's ($4.4bn) in annual turnover last year.
■ The collection of Isle of Man entrepreneur and horologist Dr John C Taylor (b.1936) goes on sale at Winchester dealership Carter Marsh.
■ TEFAF Maastricht 2021 is cancelled due to the pandemic despite moving from March to September but The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair is able to go ahead as it is classed as an outdoors event.
■ ATG’s parent company, Auction Technology Group, lists on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.
■ Stanley Gibbons buys the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, the world's most expensive stamp, for $7m (£4.97m) at Sotheby's New York.
■ A printed copy of the Declaration of Independence discovered in Scotland sells for $3.7m at Freeman's in Philadelphia.
■ Lockdowns around the UK gradually ease during spring.
● UK Covid vaccine roll-out reaches 48m people with a first dose by end of August.
● Perseverance rover lands on Mars.
● Prince Philip dies aged 99.
● Final Debenhams store is closed, after more than 240 years in business.
● Taliban return to power in Afghanistan.