Just as Christie’s was enjoying its highly successful £231.5 million sales of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art this month, changes were announced that suggest that a programme of acute cost-cutting, involving over 250 job losses, is under way.
CSK set the pace in many of these categories – film or ski posters for instance. The very wealthy, real collectors – Sheikh Saud Al Thani, Paul Getty or Lord Thomson for instance – would buy there, as well as all the dealers.
As Christie’s focused more and more on the potential gain at the top end of the retail market, sales at CSK were run down. Turnover figures fell from £139.4 million in 2012, when it held 126 sales, to just £62.1 million last year when it held only 55 sales. The emphasis now is on building up services in
China and , where a new branch is scheduled to open, and
investing in the internet, with online only sales replacing the live sales at
While it seems clear that Christie’s emphasis is increasingly high-end and Asia-orientated, the notion that the closures and redundancies are to fund improvements in online activity does not convince everyone. Online sales have risen rapidly, it is true, from $9.5 million in 2011 to $67 million in 2016. But that is still a tiny fraction of worldwide sales.
* This article first appeared on The Telegraph.